Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens – an honest review

Today our four year old turns five. What with him starting school a few weeks ago I’m fresh out of emotions at milestones, so I’m coping just fine! Five suits him, and I remember from the teen that five is a good year. Less tantrums, more personality. Though this kid has personality by the bucketful already, I’m not sure I could handle any more! We didn’t throw him a party this year, as he doesn’t know all the kids in his class yet, so instead we took him to Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens.

Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens

It’s a dreary Monday and I’m the bad (good?) sort of mum who makes her kids go to school on their birthdays. He opened all his gifts before school – a street sweeper, mini bus, log lorry, crane and sea plane in a variety of Lego, Playmobile and Sika…he’s a total vehicle geek. Another thing he geeks out over is dinosaurs. He geeks out over those hard.  We’ve seen every dinosaur movie possible, our house is over run with books and toys, and the little dude can tell you facts about the most obscure dinos (as well as pronounce their names).

So when I first heard about the Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens I knew we had to take him. Animatronic dinosaurs would blow his little mind.  I had the tab open on my browser for months until the tickets went on sale, and yesterday it was finally our time to experience the magic.

Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens

 

getting there, getting in

I’ll get the bad bits over with first.  The tickets for Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens weren’t cheap – for a family of four it was over £10 per perso. The customer service is poor to non-existent too.  I raised a request via Eventbrite and got no response, and on Facebook had to chase for a reply which was curt to say the least.

I also didn’t like the booking process.  If you’re thinking of going when the tour moves on to other areas of the country, don’t book as soon as the tickets go on sale.  I did that, only to find that a discount code was released the next day.  Not a nice way to treat your most keen customers.  The tickets are also non-refundable, which isn’t great when you’re buying in advance for children. Better hope they don’t come down with chicken pox or something on the day!*

Obviously if you catch the tour somewhere else this one may not be an issue, but specific to Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens there is no dedicated parking.  We didn’t see that as a problem but I thought it was worth a mention here.  We got parked on Byres Road, which was free and unrestricted as it was a Sunday. There are also a couple of car parks nearby.  But I would guess the car parks would fill up quickly, and they aren’t free.  On-street parking is restricted and most of it is residents only, so I’d recommend public transport if at all possible. Our friends got public transport, which is great to that part of the city.

Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens

 

the dinosaur experience

The dinosaurs are laid out at points along a route through the Botanic Gardens.  The route was well sign-posted and was fine for pushing a pram along, though due to where it is there were hills and part of the route does take you out on to a road.

We were greeted by a colossal Brachiosaurus as we made our way up to the start of the route. The wee guy was a bit nervous at first!  The dinosaurs make noises, and he wasn’t too sure about that.  He soon warmed up though, when he saw some Pterodactyls in the trees. After that he excitedly ran from dino to dino, getting up close and really enjoying himself.

Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens

The models themselves were really good, and there were facts about each one.  A lot of them moved and made sound so it was a lot of fun being roared at!  It was really busy when we were there, but the models are spaced out well enough that there’s plenty of room to see them and pose for photos.

We were lucky enough to get a typical Scottish summer day for our visit. The heavens ripped open and torrential rain pelted us before we even got halfway round the route.  We’d worn our trusty waterproofs, which was lucky as there is very little shelter.  Feeding the baby under a bridge while rain thundered down and a T-Rex growled menacingly at us is a memory I wont forget.  It was like being in our own version of Jurassic Park. We just needed an upturned car to complete the scene.  Make sure you check the weather and dress appropriately so your trip isn’t spoiled by soggy socks!

Highlights of Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens for us were the Raptors snacking on another dinosaur, the Euoplocephalus and of course the enormous Tyrannosaurus Rex!  It was also nice to see the Botanic Gardens, which I haven’t been so since I was a kid.  We’ll definitely be visiting there again once the dinosaurs have moved on.

Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens

 

facilities and extras

There were portaloos and catering facilities at the mid-point, although we didn’t need to use them.  There was also a merch trailer selling all things dinosaur.  Our little guy chose a plastic model Pachycephalosaurus (he can pronounce it, I can’t) which was £9.  I actually didn’t think the toys on sale were too badly priced.

There were ride-on dinosaurs and a VR experience, both which cost extra.  The wee guy wasn’t interested, so I don’t know if they were worth the money.

There are also an egg and a dinosaur’s jaws near the entrance, to use as photo props.  They are free, but the queue for these was pretty long so we didn’t use them.  As you can tell from his pained expression in the photos, the birthday boy wasn’t in the mood to pose!

Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens

 

overall – is jurassic kingdom at glasgow botanic gardens worth it?

Given the bad experience with booking, I was really worried that Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens was going to disappoint.  I’d read some less than positive reviews from other stops on the tour, especially about the condition of the models.  Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised.  The models were all working and all looked great.

In terms of value for money…are these things ever value for money?  But I didn’t feel ripped off as we walked around.  Sadly the weather was pretty awful for us yesterday. But we were waterproofed up enough to still enjoy it and see everything there was to see.  We could have easily made a day of it, with a picnic and going round the route more than once, had the weather been at least dry.  We’d love to do it again for that reason, though not at the current price.

Jurassic Kingdom at Glasgow Botanic Gardens

The tour still has some places in the UK to visit. I’d recommend it if you have a little dinosaur nerd like ours,  particularly if they’re under the age of ten. Though I did see childless adults enjoying it just as much as our crowd!

 

 

*They say they’re non-exchangeable too, but Eventbrite do let you change the names on the tickets.  So if you are unable to go you could always sell your tickets to someone else.

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motivation for improving my health – kick starting my weight loss

I wrote last week about my plans to lose the baby weight (and then some).  I put on 7lbs in pregnancy and said that I would update weekly until I’d lost that before tackling the rest of my weight loss journey.  This week, I’m trying to find some motivation for improving my health and losing the weight.

motivation for improving my health - kick starting my weight loss

 

weight update

this week’s result

I lost 2lbs, which takes my total to 4lbs.

If I’m honest, I was actually surprised by that result.  After a bit of a mixed week, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  It hadn’t got off to a great start food-wise, and it was only in the second half that I started being more mindful.  I think what saved me was upping my activity levels.  I’ve started a Zumba class, and I’ve been walking over 5 miles a day on the school run.  At 9 weeks postnatal, that’s the most active I’ve been in quite a while!

moving forward

I’ve been flip-flopping on these 2lbs for the past four weeks though, and this week has again got off to a rubbish start food-wise.  A cake sale at the school, a choice of burger or hot dog when out on Saturday, a curry and a big Sunday dinner have all gone under my belt already!  I’ll not be surprised if I see that 2lb back on again.

 

i need motivation

For some reason I’m struggling to find motivation for improving my health.  I’m getting frustrated with myself.  I really want to start seeing evidence of fat loss but I’m not motivated to put the effort in.  Especially with food.  I know the healthy choices I need to make, but somehow I just can’t be bothered.

Sure I want to be slimmer and more toned, but that want isn’t strong enough to light a fire under me.  It pales in comparison with the want to veg on the sofa with a bar of Dairy Milk right now.  I need to find a stronger motivator than just what I look like.

 

finding motivation for improving my health

People often say they want to be healthy so that they can live longer or be around for their kids.  And those are great reasons to aim for better health.  But as a motivator for right now, those reasons are too out there for me.  They seem too far away to really get me focused.

I need to look at the here and now.  What changes to I want to see this time next week or next month?  What does better health look like to me in the short term?  Two things come to mind – feeling more comfortable with daily activity, and improving my mood.

 

not letting sweat get in the way

Activity is the area I’m doing best in right now, but I’m a long way from my fittest.  That means I’m finding daily activity a bit tougher, and not working out at the level I want to.

The school run is on a hill, so by the time I get home I’m a sweaty puddle.  I cannot stand the feeling of being sticky and damp.  I know there are a lot of things that contribute to my hot mess-ness, like the temperature and what I’m wearing.  But carrying extra weight contributes to sweating, so losing weight and not having to work so hard to get up the hill can but help.  The thought of feeling a bit more comfortable with daily activity is motivation for improving my health.

When it comes to exercise though, I know it’s unrealistic to expect not to break a sweat.  Especially when in any given fitness class I am always the sweatiest in the room.  I like to work at the top end of my ability and tend to really go for it. When I’m fit I don’t really mind people seeing me all red and shiny, because I’m proud of putting in the effort.  But when I’m soaked and puce even from the warm up, I feel really self conscious.  I’ve noticed in my Zumba class that I don’t go quite as hard as I could, because I’m embarrassed at looking so unfit.  I know it shouldn’t matter, but for me it does.  So improving my health will help me enjoy exercise more, and to get more from it.

 

improving my mental health

In order to get the weight loss that’s going to help me get more from my activity, I have to start eating better.

With being up each night with a young baby, not to mention all the effort it takes to keep him and the rest of the family alive each day, I’m knackered.  When I’m knackered I feel stressed, angry and down.  That just leaves me feeling awful, and triggers a mental health slump.  My motivation to get anything done disappears and then I end up feeling even worse because not only am I tired but the mountain of stuff I have to do is looming over me in piles.

Eating crap is not going to help any of that.  It’s not going to fill me up and it’s not going to give me energy.  It just makes me feel worse because I’m either starving or drained. When I feel bad I turn to food, which will make me feel even worse…lather, rinse, repeat.  I need to focus on the fact that I do enjoy healthy food and I do feel good when I nourish my body.  Improving my diet is going to boost my mood because I’ll feel productive and energised, and that is great motivation for improving my health.

 

so what now?

My plan of action is to keep up the level of activity I’m doing and to really examine my diet.  Hopefully together they’ll start to help the weight come off, make me feel more positive and help me feel more comfortable when I’m exercising.

Diet-wise, I’m considering stripping it right back.  Just focusing on nutrients and not being too concerned with counting calories or Syns or points just now.  Maybe if I start feeling better by eating better, I’ll be more motivated to then knuckle down with trying to stay within a certain allowance to try and get some weight loss happening.

 

I’d love to hear what inspires you to improve your health or motivates you to lose weight – what keeps you going?

 

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first day of school – how we prepared for our baby starting primary

It’s that time of year. Summer holidays are over and the schools are back.  I’ve seen the Dear Teacher poem doing the rounds on social media, read blogs by mothers distraught at the thought of their little one walking through the doors of “big school” and clicked past countless adverts for iron-on name tags.  Parents all over the country are packing their babies off for their first day of school.

first day of school - how we prepared for our baby starting primary

This year we joined them, watching our four year old toddle off for his first day of school.  It’s a rite of passage, for parents as much as for the kids.  One which is meant to come with tears and bittersweet longing for the baby you were holding only yesterday.

But actually, I wasn’t one of the sobbing mums having to be peeled off her child and bodily removed from the classroom.  I found this next adventure exciting. I couldn’t wait to see him in his uniform and to share in his first day with him.  Hubs and I walked out of the school that first morning beaming.  Not distraught, but proud.

 

the build up to the first day of school

I hadn’t always expected to feel so positive on his first day of school.  When school sign-up time came around he still seemed far too small for that to be looming already.  I worried that school would be a scary and difficult place for our little guy who still needed us so much.

But there have been many steps up to the school gates.  With each of those steps we’ve felt a bit more ready. When we signed him up, he and I were given a tour of the school.  The nursery also took him to spend some time there, and the teachers visited the nursery.  Then came a couple of sessions where the kids spent a few hours in the classroom without parents or nursery staff.  The end of nursery was signalled by an adorable graduation day, and folders of all his work to bring home.

This all brought nursery to a gentle close, and opened the school gates to welcome our little man.  It meant I could happily watch him disappear into the classroom with a herd of other tiny little people without wanting to break down.  He was happy to go too, and has loved it every day since.  He’s become a bit of a role model, taking kids who aren’t so happy to be dropped off each morning under his wing.  He comes out of school grinning at 3pm, with his shoes all scuffed, shirt untucked and tie skew-whiff as if he’s been on the go all day!

first day of school - how we prepared for our baby's first day of primary

 

help prepare your little one (and you) for the first day of school

I know we’re quite lucky that our transition from pre-schooler to primary school kid has been so smooth.  And I know that not every child will find it so easy to make that leap.  Even children that have been through the exact same settling in process as our boy struggled on the first day of school.  A week later some are still crying and having to be coaxed through the gates.

I thought I would share some of the things we did to prepare our son for school. I hope it will help even one other parent avoid the school gate heartbreak:

  • Talk about school
    We talked about school every day over the summer.  Sometimes it was just a comment – “you’ll get to do that at school.”  At other times we read books about school, or just had a chat about how he was feeling.  We also pointed out some things that would change too, like having to wipe his own bum!
    I took his lead – if he wasn’t interested I didn’t push it. I wanted school to be a positive topic.
  • Make school familiar
    We drove past the school whenever we could, and pointed out children in the uniform.  To give him ownership we referred to it as “your school” and we didn’t call it “big school” either, to avoid it seeming intimidating.
  • Try on the uniform
    I bought my son’s uniform way back at the start of the summer. We tried it on at the time, but it then lived in his wardrobe for weeks.  I tried it on him again the week before school started, more to make sure the trousers didn’t need taken up, but I think this made him more comfortable.  I wasn’t sure how he’d cope with a shirt and tie (he refused to wear one even for our wedding!), but he’d got used to it by the time the first day rolled around.
  • Build independence
    As a full time working mum trying to get two kids out the house by 7.15am each day, sometimes it was just easier to do certain things. But in the run-up to the first day of school I made an effort to encourage more responsibility.  Things such as dressing himself, carrying his own bag, finding his own belongings at the end of the nursery day and yes, wiping his own bum.  I also encouraged him to carry his own plate to the table. I even got him to use toilet cubicles on his own when we were out in public (I think that was scarier for me than him!).  This all built him up, and made me more confident that he’d be ok doing these things at school.
  • Get used to other kids
    Having been in childcare since he was a baby, our son is well used to other kids.  But they’re the same kids he’s been with for most of his life. The move to school meant new faces and personalities to get used to.
    Soft play was really helpful in teaching him how to deal with strangers, either turning them into friends or coping with behaviour that he didn’t like.  So far at school he sticks with his nursery friends, but they are very close so I’d expect that.  He is learning new names and getting to know other children too though, and is confident enough to say hi when we see them outside of school too.
  • Routine, routine, routine
    I think this is key to any aspect of a young child’s life, they thrive on routine. Again, we had it easy with this one.  We’ve been in a routine of getting up, fed, dressed and out the house for 7.15 every day since our son was tiny. But over the summer (and with a newborn) this routine slipped. In the weeks before school started I made an effort to impose structure to our day again.  That has helped our mornings run smoothly – we haven’t been late once so far!
    Routine also goes for what happens after school too. We use the walk home to unpack his day, get some fresh air and have a snack. Then we get homework out the way and make sure everything is ready for the next day when we get home.  That means the evening is his to play as he wants.

 

new school kid on the block

I’ve gone from thinking he wasn’t ready, to wondering if the teachers are ready for him!  Our son is a vibrant little boy who is always talking and wanting to know everything. We frequently describe him as “full on” because he doesn’t seem to have an off switch.  He is confident, articulate and picks things up quickly, and school hasn’t intimidated or unsettled him. He has big ideas and the vocabulary to match.  But  he can be stubborn and determined, even in the face of adult opposition, so I wonder how he’ll get on having to sit quietly or do the prescribed work if there’s something he’d rather be doing!

I guess we’ll find out when parents’ evening rolls around!

 

Good luck to any other parents about to send their little one off to primary school.  Each milestone takes them further away from the tiny babies they were, but see it as an exciting adventure. Think of all that they’ve got to look forward to!

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lose the baby weight [ & then some ] – my plans to get back in shape

It’s taken me a little longer than I thought it would to get round to writing about my plans to “lose the baby weight.” And that’s because it’s taking me a little longer than I thought it would to get round to actually try to lose the baby weight.

lose the baby weight & then some

 

pregnancy weight gain

You may know that I’ve just had baby number three.  He is now eight weeks old, and my pregnancy with him was my healthiest ever.  Ordinarily I put on about three stone in pregnancy, but this time around I was determined not to do that.  So I joined SlimmingWorldexercised until 38 weeks and prioritised sleep.  The result?  I gained just 7lbs.

I can’t put in to words how good it felt to be pleased rather than devastated when I weighed myself after birth.  That helped incredibly when it came to how I viewed my postpartum self and for the first time in three pregnancies I loved my postnatal body.

 

my body now

But that isn’t to say I’m happy.  I’m proud of my body, and as postnatal bodies go (at least, my previous postnatal bodies) it’s pretty awesome.  But the reality is that I’m still overweight and I’m not as healthy as I could or should be.  I’m not as slim or toned or strong as I was this time last year.  And I want to be.  It’s time to lose the baby weight…and then some.

Currently I’m sitting at 5lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight, and 27lbs over the BMI prescribed healthy weight for my height.  I want all of that gone.

Last year I had finally gained some (slight) definition in my upper arms and shape to my usually flat bum.  Those have disappeared, so I want them back.  I also want to be able to fit my calves into knee-high boots again.

I want to be able to run a 5k again, to lift a decent amount of weight again, and to make it through a dance class without wanting to quit.

 

my attempt so far

I went back to SlimmingWorld three weeks after giving birth, but in five weeks I’ve only managed to lose 2lbs.  I keep gaining and losing the same couple of pounds.  My head isn’t really in it.  I’ll have an ok week, and then a week where I just don’t try at all.

I’m too tired and busy to find the drive to lose the baby weight, let alone face the further weight loss journey.  But I need to find that drive, because without it I could easily fall in to the trap of putting more weight on.  I don’t want to undo all the body positivity I’ve felt from having a healthy pregnancy with minimal weight gain.

I’m struggling to find my approach.  As I’ve said before, there is a lot I don’t like about SlimmingWorld and so I mainly go to have someone weigh me.  I need that, to be held accountable.  If I just rely on weighing myself I’ve got even less drive to try.  As far as “dieting” goes, I’m using MyFitnessPal to track calories.  But I’m keen to do some sort of mix of the two, just to see what happens.

I also need to get active.  I’m struggling to find the time to workout at home because baby boy feeds every two hours and only sleeps for 20 minutes (if I’m lucky) at a time!  Thankfully, with the four year old starting school I have the perfect reason to walk 3.5 miles per day on the school run, so that’s something.  But I was heartbroken to hear that my beloved Clubbercise class has been cancelled.  Getting out to a class is the only way to guarantee I’ll get some exercise in, so I’m having to revert to Zumba…not as much fun but at least it gets me sweaty!

 

my goal – lose the baby weight & then some

The first step in finding the drive is to set myself some targets.  First I want to lose the baby weight – 5lbs off in the next 3 weeks (so by 7th September).

Next, I want to lose the rest.  It’s a fair amount I want to lose, and I don’t want to punish myself doing it.  So I’ll aim for 1lb off a week.  My goal is to be at my healthy weight by the end of February, which builds in a little wriggle room to account for Christmas!

I know BMI and weight aren’t always the best way to judge a body, but I find I am motivated by the change on the scales more than any other form of tracking.  However, I will also be taking measurements and photos to show my progress, as I think together these will all tell the full story of my journey.

 

my weight loss journey

I’m hoping to bring this blog back more to what I had pictured it being when I started it – a place to chart my journey to health, sharing my tips and struggles along the way.  Until I reach my first goal, I’ll update weekly on my progress.  After that, probably monthly will be enough.  But along the way I’m hoping to blog about recipes, workouts, tools and the reality of getting myself into shape.  I’d love it if you would join me!

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interview with a teenager – my son’s hopes, fears + thoughts

I’ve not had the chance to blog this week, we’ve been really busy.  Here in Scotland the summer holidays are over, and school starts back tomorrow.  I’ve been trying to cram a whole summer’s worth of days out into the last ten days, to make up to the teenager and the four year old for being busy with a new born for most of the holidays.

I feel sad that the end of the holidays has come around so soon.  Not least because the four year old will be starting primary school.  But that’s a whole other blog post of its own…which I’m not quite ready to process.  I thought I’d focus on my teenager today instead.

interview with a teenager

 

 

Old House In The Shires tagged me (a long while back!) in her “Questions For My Teens” tag, and I think that the start of the school year is a great time to interview my son.  I’m interested in what his answers will be, and to see what he thinks come the end of the school year.

 

back to school worries

The teenager is 15 now, and heading into fourth year at school.  That means his first exams are waiting for him in the shape of his National 5’s.  Does that worry me?  Not in the slightest.  He’s an incredibly smart kid who knows where he wants his studies to take him.  It’s what the school year holds for him that worries me.  As I mentioned before in my good, bad & ugly of parenting a teen, he has experienced bullying since high school started.

My son is a great kid. He’s kind and polite, clever and sporty. He gets on with adults.  He’s even helpful around the house (when he’s nagged!).  But these traits make him the subject of jealousy and a “soft target”, especially for one little shit in particular.  A little shit who unfortunately has a lot of cronies who blindly accept his opinion as their own. Things did start to get better towards the end of the last term, mainly because my son finally let me speak to the school.  Some of the perpetrators seem to have grown a conscience too, with one apologising for what he’d done.  But although I am hopeful that he can put it behind him, I can’t help but be concerned that it isn’t over yet.

I wonder if exams and bullying are on his mind too.  Will they come out in his answers, or is he less concerned about these things than me?

 

questions for my teenager

  1. What are your greatest fears at the moment?
    His first answer was that he was scared of the dark, which surprised me.  He also doesn’t like spiders but I knew that, as I’m the resident spider catcher in our house!  But when I asked him about bigger fears he said “I’m scared of not succeeding.  About not getting a good job or having a good life.”  I said that was pretty big stuff, and asked him if he was worried about exams – not at all!

  2. What do you see yourself doing in 5 years time?
    He said he sees himself either travelling the world or at university.  He wants to travel before studying though, doing volunteer work in the third world but also going to places like New York.  He’s always wanted to study technology, and for the longest time wanted to be a games or software designer. So his answer surprised me when he said “I want to do something with music tech.”  This is a new subject that has opened up to him this year, which brings his love of tech to his natural talent for music (he’s been playing the piano for four years).  He said as soon as he started the subject he found it fascinating and so really wants to follow it.

  3. If you could meet anyone from history, who would it be and why?
    He said he was torn between John Logie Baird (inventor of the television, and famous son of our town) and Einstein.  Why?  “Because both made massive changes to the world. If I could meet one of them I’d like to see them going through all their work to the end.”

  4. What makes you angry and why?
    “Not getting to spend a lot of time on my computers and stuff. And sometimes I have to turn them off right in the middle of something as well.”  This makes me laugh so much, he really is obsessed with computers.  Oh to be 15 again. Imagine your biggest stressor being how much time you got (or didn’t get) to play computer games!

  5. Do you believe in having a soul-mate and true love?
    “Yes. Some people are meant to be with each other.” When I asked him if he thinks there is just the one person for each of us he said “there could be multiple people for different people.”  I’m glad of that. I think it’s a dangerous mind set to think there is only one person out there.  I’m happy my son will hopefully be less inclined to stay with someone bad for him in the misguided belief that they’re the one.

  6. What is the best and worst part of being a teenager?
    “Probably the worst part is always being tired. The best part is probably seeing yourself going through all these changes.” And yes, he meant puberty. I guess it’s nice to know he’s not scared or uncomfortable in his changing body!

  7. What would be your perfect day?
    Jeez, this one was like blood from a stone and his response was typically geeky.  You can count me out of joining him!  “Winning an eSports tournament (which is apparently gaming, but the best in the world). And getting to meet all the famous YouTubers and gamers.”

  8. If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
    “I would build a nice big house abroad, buy a nice car and then send a huge chunk to a charity, like Water Aid.”  Thankfully no computers!
This was quite a cool thing to do, I got the chance to speak to him about his ideas about travelling and his thoughts on other things which may not have come up in normal conversation. I think I’m meant to tag other bloggers with teens, but actually I don’t know any!  I’ll be linking up with the Tweens, Teens & Beyond linky with this though, so I’d love it if anyone from there wants to carry this on with their own interview with their teenager!

oldhouseintheshires

  Twin Mummy and Daddy  Mummy Times Two  Pink Pear Bear
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my postnatal body after baby number three

 

Following on from my recent post about how to love your postnatal body, I thought now would be a good time to talk about my postnatal body following the birth of baby number three.  I don’t think we talk enough about what those first few weeks and days following birth are like.  I know after my first baby I was clueless about what was going to hit me!

By baby number three I knew what to expect, but with each pregnancy the postnatal changes and symptoms get stronger.  I can safely say that the initial postpartum period after this baby was the toughest of the three.  Considering this was the only time I’ve not had stitches after birth, that’s really saying something!

 

after pains and maternity pads

Why had no one warned me that the after pains this time around were going to be an absolute bitch?!  It seemed crazy that I was popping so many pain killers to cope with the cramps, when I’d had a drug-free labour.  And the bleeding that went along with the cramps…jeez.  Lets just say I didn’t know you could have lightning reflexes when sleep deprived, until I had to make the transition from shower to maternity nappy pad without making the bathroom look like the scene from Psycho.

 

boobs after birth

Considering I was slowed down by the lumps of concrete which had replaced my boobs, my shower time ninja stylings are even more impressive. For over a week after my milk came in, I had tits of steel.  Painful tits of steel. The slightest wobble made them ache, so I ended up wearing two bras to keep them steady.  As I’ve mentioned before, I formula feed for various reasons, including a previous breast reduction which has left me unable to breastfeed, so the engorgement with no way to get that milk to my baby was a bit of a kicker.  I’m glad I’d already been through the disappointment of not being able to breastfeed and made my peace with it.  Otherwise, hauling those useless uber boobs around could have really got to me.  As it was, I quite enjoyed the big postnatal cleavage but remembered why I’d had a reduction in the first place!

 

the mummy tummy

While my boobs were swelling, my belly shrank.  I feel that this time around, my bump disappeared almost as soon as I’d given birth.  My belly went back to normal within a matter of days.  This isn’t quite as miraculous as that sounds. I’ve never had a flat or toned stomach, so “normal” for me is a bit rounded and wobbly anyway! But I was back in pre-pregnancy jeans just over a week after giving birth.  I always thought that was the holy grail of postnatal statements, but actually I was upset to see my bump go.  I loved my pregnant body this time around.  As Hubs is still adamant that we’re done having babies, the end of pregnancy was quite a sad point for me.

 

symphysis pubis dysfunction and diastasis recti

Despite not suffering from SPD in this pregnancy, I ended up with a case of it after birth.  I could barely walk up the stairs at times, and my pelvis felt like it was grinding when I moved.  But it resolved itself, and was gone by the time I got a physio appointment.

I still went to the appointment though, and it was useful.  We talked about postnatal exercise and she checked me for any abdominal separation.  I was convinced I’d have some sort of diastasis recti.  Especially considering my midwife insisted on mentioning my “loose abdominal muscles” at every opportunity.  But if I did have any separation, it was gone by the time she examined me at four weeks postpartum.  We talked about the importance of starting with low impact exercise, and only introducing weight training gradually to avoid putting pressure on my weakened pelvis.

 

postnatal sweating and hair loss

I’m now six weeks after birth, and feel basically back to normal.  Albeit a very sweaty version of normal – I had forgotten about the post-baby sweats, especially at night.  I’ve got a permanent sheen on during the day, and am often soaked when I wake up for night feeds.  I feel constantly grotty, which is a cruel trick of nature when a limpet-like newborn makes it that fucking difficult to jump in the shower.

And speaking of washing, I’ve noticed changes to my hair already.  During pregnancy I only needed to wash it every three to four days (and even then just for cleanliness, as opposed to it being oily).  Now I’m back to needing to wash it almost every other day.  I’m just biding my time before the inevitable postnatal hair loss kicks in, to make me feel really sexy.

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how to love your postnatal body

I’m now five weeks postnatal following the birth of baby number three. Getting to a healthy weight and returning to fitness are on my mind, but I’m not rushing into making big changes. Part of that is because this is the first time I’ve looked in the mirror after having a baby and not hated what I saw.  I’d even go so far as to say I’m happy with what I see.  For me that is huge, as I’ve fought with my body for my entire life. I don’t think I even liked it very much at my slimmest.

To not be repulsed when I look in the mirror is ground breaking for me.  It’s empowering to be comfortable with my postnatal body. It means that I don’t have a dark cloud of  body hatred to add to the already stressful and exhausting emotions and challenges life with a new baby can throw at you.

I’d also like to state here that I’m no supermodel.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in reading about women who had flawless bodies before they got pregnant saying they love their postnatal bodies.  I know they say they’re doing it to help others, but seeing a woman who had a six pack pre-pregnancy post a picture of a slightly bloated belly with possibly two token stretch marks a week after giving birth doesn’t help me.  It depresses the shit out of me. Lets be honest here – even pre-pregnancy I was overweight, with loose skin from a big weight loss, covered in stretch marks from boob to bits from previous pregnancies and with cellulite over practically the whole back of my body.  So if I can say I love my postnatal body, I hope you can too.

I thought I’d reflect on what I think has brought me to this point.  I hope that it helps others.  There have definitely been things from before, during and now after pregnancy which have contributed to me feeling so positive. Hopefully there’s something here that strikes a chord with you. I hope it encourages you to make friends with your changing body.

 

Before Pregnancy

The biggest thing which has helped change my relationship with my body has been exercise.  I had stopped seeing exercise as a chore and found things I enjoyed doing.  I wasn’t consistent, and actually hadn’t worked out much for a couple of months by the time we got our positive test, but I was definitely seeing the benefits of being active.

Doing exercise I loved meant that for the first time in my life I was using my body for fun.  Before that, my body wasn’t an exciting place to be.  But with activity I wanted to do, suddenly my body and I were having a great time together.

I also gained an appreciation for what my body could do.  It turned out my saggy, sad shell wasn’t a write-off.  It actually could learn to dance, it could run further than I’d ever imagined and it could lift weights.  My body was strong and capable, it could meet the goals and challenges I set it.  That was an exciting revelation.  It has left me wondering how much it could achieve if only I give it the chance.

Exercise also prepared my body for pregnancy.  Without intending to, I set myself up to have the best pregnancy of my life by getting active.

 

During Pregnancy

Looking after my body during pregnancy and learning all I could about labour really helped me.

I’ve blogged before about how I managed my weight during pregnancy and that I continued to exercise during pregnancy.  The temptation to eat for two and hibernate is strong when you’re creating a tiny human. Especially in that nasty first trimester.  But nourishing and moving your body is key to coping with the general discomforts and tiredness of pregnancy. I was able to enjoy my changing body rather than freak out about feeling “fat” or out of control.  I actually felt pretty damn beautiful.

I’ve also blogged about my hopes for a hypnobirth, and how Hubs and I did a course to prepare us.  That experience was a refresher of all the amazing things your body does during labour. The hypnobirthing mind set is that you work with your body rather than fighting against perceptions of pain or fear.  My body and I became a team. I had a new appreciation of what it had to do to bring my baby into the world.

 

After Pregnancy

No matter how you give birth, you can reflect that your body went through a lot to ensure that both you and your baby are here. I was very lucky this time to finally get exactly the sort of birth I had always hoped for. For the first time I came away from birth in a positive state of mind.  Appreciating what my body achieved showed me that what I look like is not as important as what I can do.  I just have to gaze at my gorgeous new son to be in awe of the fact that I made this.  How can you hate a body that gave you your children?

A bit of self-kindness is vital.  Particularly in the time after birth where you’re leaking blood and milk and sweat and drool (seriously, I’ve started drooling in my sleep since having a baby – someone tell me this is normal?!). I cut myself slack when I wanted to fuel myself on chocolate and cake in the first few (ok, five) weeks. And whilst I’m really keen to get back into my exercise I’m also being realistic about my body’s need to recover, the limited free time I have and my non-existent energy levels.

I don’t want to emulate women in the public eye who “bounce back” to their pre-pregnancy size by dieting and hitting the gym before their baby’s cord has even fallen off.  I’m taking the time to just “be” in my postnatal body. I still have to get my head around juggling a new baby and all my other responsibilities. My squidgy tummy is not a priority!  Physical health isn’t achievable without a good state of mind. I’m focusing on that side of things first.

 

Loving Your Postnatal Body

It’s always possible to do things which will help you look at your postnatal body in a positive light.  If you’re yet to get pregnant you can start right now by finding exercise which you love and which shows you what your body is capable of.  If you’re pregnant, putting your health first will make you feel positive and learning about just how incredible the labouring body is will help you appreciate yourself more. And if your baby is already here, reflect on what a wonderful gift your body has given you and practice some self-kindness.

So much is made about “getting your body back” after a baby, but in reality you will never get the same body as you had before.  Instead, you have something even better – your postnatal body.

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newborns are hard work…even for us seasoned pros

Look at me, dipping my toe out of the newborn fog and back into blogging again. I apologise in advance if sections of this post don’t make sense, but it will either be because I’m typing one handed or because right now I struggle to think far beyond when the next bottle is due.

Baby number three is a month old now…how did that happen?! I’ve spent the last four weeks alternatively sitting immobile on the sofa gazing at the beautiful sleeping baby in my arms, or bouncing on the exercise ball trying to get him to stop crying, or plotting ways to kill Hubs as he dared to get 45 minutes more sleep than me. Baby boy is equal parts squishy newborn deliciousness and colicky all-nighter hard work, and I swing from thinking I’ve got this baby-wrangling thing down to wanting to hide in the cupboard under the stairs with a big bar of chocolate and a tranquiliser.

I’ve got to be honest, going from two kids to three has utterly floored me. The ten year age gap between my first two sons lured me into a false sense of security when I made the step from one kid to two – I wasn’t juggling two young children and at times even had an extra pair of willing hands to help. But adding a clingy baby to a household already ruled by a high maintenance, full-on four year old? Whole other ball game. A ball game at which I’m very much last-picked-for-the-team.

In the first few weeks of our baby’s arrival, I read posts by two separate bloggers who had also recently given birth. Both these women said the same thing – that their new addition fit perfectly into a little gap in their family which they hadn’t even known existed until their baby arrived to fill it. Beautiful. A lovely sentiment about completing a family with ease. It brought tears to my eyes both times I read it. But these weren’t blissful tears as I nodded in agreement at how wonderfully their words summed up my feelings. These were tears because how I felt couldn’t be further removed.  Baby number three hasn’t fit into a little gap to complete our family. No. Right now it feels as if he’s burst right through it like a tornado.

I haven’t cooked a meal since I was pregnant and my house looks like it’s been robbed. The four year old is basically being raised by the iPad and the teenager has become a spare pair of arms to thrust a squealing baby into when a feed needs made up. Hubs is also under no illusions how much I hate his inability to whisper when I’m trying to sleep. The nursery run is always an hour late, I am fuelled by coffee and junk food, and I consider just showering an achievement. Dinner times are accompanied by the sound of baby cries bouncing off the dining room walls, and I’ve never watched so much shit daytime tv. I feel as if I’m barely functioning, and my hopes of a fun-packed summer holidays with my older boys whilst my newborn snuggled in the sling have evaporated faster than my breastmilk.

This isn’t to say I’m not enjoying our new wee bundle. He is incredible and I can’t get enough of his snuggles and velvety soft hair, watching him grow and change each day as I sit and gaze at him, filling my phone memory with pictures of his gorgeous little face. I love having him so much that I actually feel physical pain every time Hubs makes it very clear there will in no way be a baby number four, because if I had my way I’d be knocked up again already.

And so whilst having done the newborn thing twice before obviously hasn’t made third time around any easier, it has made me feel less guilty about not loving every single second. I’m feeling more hash-tag-stressed than hash-tag-blessed, but I’m totally fine admitting that. At least the kids are fed, and I’ve even managed to clean the bathroom a few times so we don’t need haz-mat suits just yet. The four year old is learning how not to be the centre of attention, the teen is in no rush to become a young parent, and Hubs has had a shag. Occasionally I’ll even remember to do my pelvic floor exercises, or eat a vegetable. None of that will make a nice Insta-brag, but we’re managing to keep things ticking over. I’m taking it all as a win.

I don’t do the soft-focus version of motherhood, so I shouldn’t have let those other bloggers’ descriptions of their newborns upset me. Blame hormones, blame my inability (again) to produce one of these mythical “easy” babies, or more accurately blame the insane pressure mums are under to hit the ground running floating when a new baby makes an appearance, but I did have a few days under a dark cloud of not being enough. But as time goes on I’ve got my perspective back. Newborns are hard work, clingy newborns with other siblings demanding your love and attention are even harder work, especially when you throw anxiety and depression into the mix. If anyone expects me to glide through that with a serene smile on my face and not a single swear word in my vocabulary, then they’ll need to dose me up with Valium first.

Actually…that doesn’t sound like too bad an idea.

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taking a bit of a blogging break…

It is with a big grin on my face that I share our special news…

Baby #3 arrived on 23 June!

 

Our beautiful boy made his appearance in the most perfect way possible – a water birth at home, just as we had hoped.  He’s a chilled out little soul, although he does seem to have day and night the wrong way round.  His brothers are besotted with him, and it goes without saying that so are me and Hubs!

I’m drinking in every newborn moment just now, and although I’d love to be the sort of blogger who had scheduled a month of posts to cover these first few weeks I’m afraid I’m too new at the blog game (and had no motivation in the last weeks of pregnancy) to have been that well prepared.  So for now, I’ll just claim to be on a break.  Possibly I’ll fit in a few posts here and there.  Maybe.  Hopefully.   I will at least join in some linkies as a chance to get my older posts some attention and to read new posts, so you’ll maybe notice me about.

But blogging is just my hobby…my babies are my life.  I’m now a mum to three sons, so I need to take this chance to transition and find my feet!

 

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my maternity leave fitness bucket list

If there’s one thing on which many parents can agree, it’s that finding time to get your fit on can be a struggle when you’re juggling kids, work and running a house. I know my own fitness efforts have always been pretty sporadic, going from a few months of 5.30am alarms for pre-work gym sessions, to only managing one evening Clubbercise class a week, to all-out couch potatoing…and all sorts of variations in between.

As I sit here, over a week past my due date with baby number three, I’m about as far away from getting on a treadmill as you can be (though maybe a wee jog might get labour started…?). I haven’t even touched my pregnancy workouts for a few weeks now, as the mere thought of pulling on my leggings makes me want to go for a nap. But there is a small part of my brain that is actually quite looking forward to getting back into fitness once this little guy is here.

I am not a natural sportswoman, and my relationship with exercise can often be more guilt-fuelled than from a place of genuine passion. But I’ve found that if I keep shaking things up, set myself challenges and look for things that are fun then I can get quite into it. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of things I’m hoping to take a stab at.  Obviously I’m not going to rush into it, and I have a postnatal DVD I’ll use at first just to get used to owning a non-pregnant body again, but I don’t want to pass up the golden opportunity maternity leave offers to whip my body into a shape other than blob-of-Playdoh.  I’ve tried to put them in some sort of order, but I’ll see what takes my fancy when the time comes.  And it goes without saying that I will also be hitting up my incredible Clubbercise class each week too!

 

Lots of walking

This is a double whammy of good, because it’s just as important for my sanity as it is for my body.  I walked a lot, miles a day, last time I had a baby.  It helped me drop the huge amount of weight I’d put on in pregnancy but it also got me out of the house and out of my own head for a part of each day – invaluable when dealing with post natal depression and a colicy, refluxy baby.  I’m hoping to walk our four year old to and from school on days when it’s dry, but even on days when it’s raining I’m not adverse to getting on my waterproofs and getting some air when it’s just me and bubs.  Plus, it will give me some time to listen to podcasts too.

 

30 Days of Yoga – Yoga with Adriene

I stumbled across Adriene and her free yoga videos last year, and she is perfect.  Her attitude is amazing, she makes yoga so accessible and for all levels, and has so much content on YouTube.  I dabbled a bit with this challenge when I first came across her but wasn’t able to commit, and so I think this could be my time.  I’ve loved my yoga practice in pregnancy and tapped into the breathing and mindfulness through hypnobirthing too, and would be keen to keep those things as part of my lifestyle.

30 Day Shred – Jillian Michaels

This is a classic, which means you can grab a DVD of it really cheap.  I did this workout a few years ago, and found it was a great way to get my head into strength-mode (I followed it up with Insanity and getting into weights).  I have continued with strength and weights-based exercises during pregnancy so I’m hoping this wont be a shock to the system, and more like a gentle re-introduction to some muscles I’ve maybe forgotten I had!

 

C25K

Or “couch to 5k” to give it its full name.  This is a game changer – it was for me and I’ve seen so many other people sing its praises.  Basically, you follow a programme (and there seem to be about a million to choose from) which starts you off from walking and progresses you until you can run a full 5k route.  Different programmes work through the progression at different rates, so there’s bound to be one out there that works for you.  I’ve done it twice before, the first was a Race For Life training plan for Pretty Muddy, and the second was a programme on my Microsoft Band.  I was amazed with my first attempt – I literally couldn’t run the length of myself and yet in a matter of weeks I completed the Pretty Muddy 5k in 35mins.  Told you – game changer.  My issue is I often fall out of a routine once I’ve got up to the 5k distance and then have to start all over again, so I’m hoping to make it a regular thing and then progress to 10k (eventually!).

 

The Modern Woman’s Guide to Strength Training – Girls Gone Strong

Whilst I’m working on my cardio, I also want to get back into my weight training.  Girls Gone Strong are an amazing collective of inspiring women who aren’t afraid to lift, and were my first introduction into what is probably my favourite form of exercise.  GGS is about so much more than lifting weights though – body positivity, acceptance, health and supporting your fellow woman are so core to this movement.   I bought their programme, and this is where I’ll be building up from again because it is such a great approach and the tutorials for every move make sure that you’re as safe and effective as you can be.  I want my sexy shoulders and butt back!

 

Blogilates calendar – Cassey Ho

I came across the whirlwind that is Cassey Ho in my last maternity leave and I love her!  It’s amazing what she’s achieved since I first started doing her workouts – she’s now a fitness megastar and has built quite the empire.  She has about a bzmillion free workout videos on YouTube and compiles a new workout calendar each month.  I’ve never completed a full month of her workouts, but I’d love to give it a proper try.  Her energy is infectious, but don’t be fooled by the bubbly personality and pop music – she is hardcore!

 

Insanity – Shaun T

Speaking of hardcore…  I’ve left this one until last because to be honest, the thought of it right now makes me want to puke!  Hubs and I have attempted it twice, and although we got close we have never quite finished the 60 days.  But this works.  I’ve never pushed myself so hard or impressed myself so much as when I was doing Insanity.  I think if I get my cardio and strength up, and tick off a few of these other challenges then maybe (just maybe!) I might stand a chance at finally getting to the end of this.

 

I’m aware this is a big ol’ list, but nine months is a long time.  My approach to fitness has always been to do what I enjoy, so if any of these things don’t turn out to be as fun as I’d hoped/remembered I’ll just ditch them.  But the world gym is my oyster, so lets just see what I can achieve!

What are your current fitness goals?

 

 


This isn’t a sponsored post, I’m not getting paid for the content, but it does contain affiliate links.  You can read more about my affiliate policy here.

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