The perfect child free night away – Oulton Hall Review

61

Last week my husband and I spent our very first night away from Matilda and took ourselves off on a relaxing spa break. We absolutely love spending all of our time with Matilda, but a day and night away was just amazing.

We booked an overnight spa package through – Spa Breaks. The package included – excess to the spa, one 60 minute treatment each, light lunch, £28 each towards our evening meal and Bed and Breakfast at Oulton Hall.

We arrived at 1:30pm and headed straight for the spa. Our first impressions were a little disappointing, as we walked down the path from the spa car park to the spa entrance the gardens were very over grown and run down – you could tell no gardening had been done this Spring / Summer.

However, once inside the Spa was lovely – we headed to the juice bar to grab our light lunch. The food was great, I had the Asian bento box and my husband had the English one. I would highly recommend both of these, I’m a massive fan of scones with clotted cream so the English box was great for this. Once we had very full tummies we then relaxed in the spa, we spent a nice hour moving between the jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. I was once told that when you are on a date away from your kids not to talk about them, unless its about fun things you are planing to do – so we chilled in the jacuzzi discussing our bucket list and all exciting places we want take Matilda.

We both had a ‘Fit for Business’ back massage, my massage was amazing. The girl that carried out the massage was lovely, she talked me through all of the different oils and massage pressures. I’ve had quite a few back massage, all around the world and that was definitely the best. However, I think the experience is a bit hit and miss, as my husbands message was a little shorter than mine and he wasn’t that impressed with the massage or the overall experience. I think he was a little sad when I told him how great my girl was, he loves a good massage and he wasn’t asked which oil or pressure he would like 😦 After the massages we did a little more relaxing in the spa and planning our future.

At around 5:30pm we went and checked into our room, the room was nice, it looked as though the bedroom had recently been decorated and the bathroom newly tiled. After throwing our bags in the room we thought it was about time we headed outside and had a drink in the champagne bar! The champagne bar is located on the other side of the hotel to the spa, overlooking the golf course. The gardens here were a lot nicer and as it was a lovely sunny day it was great to have a little chill in the sun before it was time to get ready for our evening meal.

FullSizeRender (4)

We thought we would make the most of our child free night and have a glass of wine whilst getting ready for dinner, the hotel staff were more than happy enough to bring us up a wine bucket and some wine glass so we could crack open the bottle we had brought with us.

Our evening meal was in the Calverley Grill, we weren’t expecting much as we don’t normally have great experiences in hotel restaurants. However, we were pleasantly surprised, for starters I had the goats cheese and my husband had the broccoli soup, for mains we both had the chicken with chunky chips and then we shared a creme caramel for dessert. The starters and main were amazing and had real flavour to them. Neither of us liked the dessert but I think that was just down to personal preference – as we didn’t really like the texture. All the food was covered in our £56 food allowance. Drinks could not be included in the allowance so we just paid the extra for our wine and beer.

The next morning breakfast did not disappoint. The majority of the food was a self serve buffet with a few items like pouched eggs available to order. So we stocked up on lots of lovely food before our drive home.

So all in all we had a fabulous time on a little night away and I would definitely recommend a spa break (and Oulton Hall) for those tired parents in need of a chill day and night.

Matilda’s Mummy

The Best Baby Shower Games

IMG_1462

I loved my baby shower and I also loved planning all of my friends showers. So if you are organising a shower and you are stuck for what games to play here is my ultimate top games. I have played ALOT, but these are the ones I have found most fun organising, playing and getting people involved with.

Guess that Poo

This is a fantastic classic. Get a variety of different chocolate bars and just before the baby shower, melt each one into a different nappy. All the guests then need to smell and taste each nappy and guess which is which. You will have all your guests bonding over how funny it looks eating poo out of a nappy.

Baby Food Tasting

Get together a few random foods that are easy enough to mash / puree – the smeller the better. If you have any little jars those work perfectly, if not dig out your small tupperwear boxes. Place a different puree in each jar and have the guests perform a taste test.

Sweets in a Bottle

Place two different types of sweets into two baby bottles – count the sweets as you place them in (M&M and Skittles work really well). Have the guests guess how many sweets are in each bottle. This game is great as the mummy to be gets to keep the two bottles afterwards.

Play-Doh Babies

Give all the guests a blob of play-doh, they then have 10 minutes to create the cutiest play-doh baby. The mummy to be then gets to judge who has created her the best looking baby. This is another game that will have all the guests giggling away and reminiscing about their childhood.

Late-Night Nappy Notes

Okay so this isn’t really a game but more of a fun activity. Before everyone arrives place a nappy and a pen on their seat / table. Have all guests write a funny quote, words of encouragement, inside jokes etc. I loved reading all of my nappy notes at 3am in the morning when changing Matilda’s nappy – it made those middle of the night wakeup calls that little bit easier and funnier.

So if you are a Mummy to be – congratulation and I hope you love your baby shower.

If you are a bestie that is organising  a shower – have fun, arrange the above games I guarantee your guests will have a great time.

Matilda’s Mummy x

Baby_whiteGold_hero_RGB_f
Baby Script Balloons are ideal for your Baby Shower deco – only £6 from http://www.miloandmatilda.co.uk

Does white noise help babies sleep?

         IMG_1278

So my answer is a definite YES!

Matilda was a very upset newborn. As a family we had to fight colic, a milk allergy and silent reflux, which meant we had endless hours of screaming. Matilda is also one of those few a babies that did not want a dummy – so white noise was a life saver for us. Whenever she was having one of her screaming fits the only way we could calm her down was to play white noise, using the ‘Sound Sleeper’ app – in particular the hairdryer and hoover.

So if you are reading this because you have a colicky baby I really do feel your pain, and it’s annoying when people say it will get better – but it really will, and hopefully white noise will work for your family :). White noise did not stop Matilda screaming completely when she was screaming from 5pm until 11pm but a lot of the time it did seem to calm her. The ‘Sound Sleeper’ app was great because the volume does seem to go a lot higher than most white noise machines, and this really is needed when a baby is screaming at the top of their lungs. I would hold Matilda tight to my chest, rock her and gently tap her bum whilst my husband would play the white noise on this phone next to us. I would keep doing this until she stopped screaming and would fall to sleep.

Before Matilda’s prescription milk and silent reflux medication started to work, she would cry none stop in between feeds. Our lives were sleep, feed, scream repeat. So after / or during a feed Matilda would just start screaming, there was no consoling her with anything put white noise. Even my parents and grandparents could not believe how magical it was, I could sit rocking her, walk around soothing her – but she would not stop screaming until I turned on the white noise. She would then start to calm down and fall to sleep.

As Matilda is now older we still use the white noise during her day time naps. She is such a light sleeper. If I put her down to sleep even just closing the door wakes her up. So now she has the white noise on when she is napping so that I can get my jobs done around the house.

There are also many fun little white noise machines out there for babies, like Ewan the Dream Sheep and Soothe and Glow Seahorse. These didn’t work for Matilda as a new born as they don’t play for that long and were not loud enough. But from about six months old she started to love these at bed time, we alternate between the two and turn these on at the start of her bed time routine. Ewan is just adorable and soft, his belly lights up and he plays four different heartbeat and womb sounds which lasts for 20 minutes – this is an ideal time for getting Matilda ready for bed, putting her down and helping her drift off to sleep. Soothe and Glow Seahorse also has a light up tummy and features eight lullabies and classical music with two ocean tracks – however with this you are unable to choose which sound to play, the seahorse just runs through all eight on repeat. The seahorse only plays for five minutes, which some times isn’t quiet long enough to help Matilda drift off to sleep. However, I think the Seahorse may just be one for kids a little older for Matilda.

So to conclude I think white noise is great, it reduces stress is babies (whether thats stress from colic, being ill, being over-tired, under-tired, overwhelmed from this new world) and helps babies fall to sleep and stay asleep for longer.

Matilda’s Mummy

Ultimate Fathers Day Ideas

Last Father’s Day my belly sent a card to Milos daddy, I was so excited about the thought of being parents that I felt the need to celebrate the day. Father’s Day has never been a thing for me, as it was just my mum, brother and I growing up, so I wanted to make this extra special because it was kind of a first for me as well.

This year I’m even more excited, because this year we are parents and it means Father’s Day is official. On Mother’s Day I was spoilt and I want to make sure I return the love. I have always been more of a giver, I just love giving presents, writing people little notes, sending cards, packages of sunshine when people are feeling down. I prefer other peoples special occasions to my own.

So we here at Milo and Matilda thought we’d come up with the ultimate Father’s Day idea list. You don’t need buckets of cash, unless you want to, you just need a little bit of love and a spot of imagination.

  • A picnic. Outdoor or indoor. Nothing beats a picnic, it’s personal you can spend as little or as much as you like and you can tailor it to match daddy’s tastes. For Milos daddy it would be lobster rolls, cured meats, fresh fruits, scones with clotted cream and some bubbles.
    You could buy your partner (from the kids) or your dad his favourite beers, or even those fantastic personalised ones, then grab some of his favourite sweet and savoury treats and head down to the local park and enjoy an afternoon spoiling him. Picnics also work well inside, set a rug down in your siting room and lay all the food out as if you were outside. A lovely alternative for a rainy day!

Picnic in the Park

  • A drinking Vessel. What dad doesn’t love a good mug. Especially when it’s the first Father’s Day. Milos daddy said they should be called SMugs because it makes him smile every time he uses it because he is a dad and he’s making sure his whole office knows, again. And if Dad works outdoors or loves gardening on a weekend, there is always the option for a cool tin mug instead or the traditional porcelain one.
  • A Handprint. A gift we absolutely love and is sure to melt all hearts is your child’s handprint. You can have a go at home and make a card or picture or if you fancy really making the most of this then head down to one of those fantastic pottery cafes that seem to be popping up all over the place. We did this at christmas and made Milo and Matilda’s Daddy’s absolutely gorgeous little baubles for the tree. Be advised most places need between 3-7 days to finish the items in the kiln and glaze them so give yourself plenty of time.
image5
Probably the wrong time to make a bauble but you get the idea of how cute these gifts are!
  • Vouchers. Now we are not talking a boring old B&Q or Debenhams voucher, we are talking the homemade variety. I remember making these when I was a child and as I think about it now I could think of nothing nicer. Breakfast in Bed, one football match on the TV moan free, a six pack of beers or a night off the cooking. Those kind of things. Again its personal and you can tailor it to suit your family and the dad in question.
  • Scrabble. Another of our favourites is the sentimental gift of the scrabble family frame. Daddy can keep it in his office or his study or you can pop it on view in the sitting room for all to see. There is the option for just daddy and his daughter or son, or the option for the whole family. Matilda’s mum made us one just after Milo was born and I love seeing our names linked together.
  • Memories. Probably the most important one of all because there is nothing nicer than creating memories. Go for a walk somewhere you have never been, visit the zoo or an aquarium. Drive to the nearest beach and collect shells or spend the day playing board games at home. Just do something you don’t normally do. Laugh lots and make the very most of the beautiful family you have, remember to take lots of pictures and print a few off for the fridge.

So to all Dad’s out there we wish you a wonderful Fathers Day.

Cannon Hall Farm Review

Last weekend Matilda and her buddy Marshall took us parents on a little trip to Cannon Hall Farm in South Yorkshire.

We arrived at 11am (on a Sunday) and I’d say the place was just starting to get busy, we paid our £3 car parking and then headed to the entrance and paid the £7.95 per adult – plus 50p for animal feed (if you have children over the age of 2 years then they will also need to pay £7.95).

First off we went into the farm to see all the animals. Before entering the big barns you are greeted by the rabbits and guinea pigs, there was one rabbit out on a table for the kids to stroke and take pictures with, which was a big hit with all the older kids. If you love pigs you will love it here as they have hundreds of them, the first barn was full of mummy pigs with all their little piglets. The farm has an average of 2/3 litters born each week so sometimes you are able to see a live birth (sadly we didn’t). Next up were the cows and goats, followed by all other farm yard animals you can think of, you are also able to meet rudolf at the end.

image5.jpg

After the barns we headed over to watch sheep and ferret racing. Matilda and Marshall were far to young to understand what was going on but all of the older kids were loving it.

Next stop was the Hungry Llama restaurant and the indoor soft play centre. Between the four adults we had, two jacket potatoes, lasagne and the burger, all of which I would say where standard prices/ quality of food (£6 for jackets, £9 for mains). There is also a pub – The White Bull on site, which you can also purchase food from. The £3 ticket that we paid for parking could also be redeemed at either restaurant, which is good – but also a sneaky way to get you to spend more money (as you have to spend a minimum of £10 to redeem your ticket). After food we let the babies loose in the soft play centre. They loved splashing around in the ball pool and watching the older kids whizz down the slides.

Finally we had a quick look around the farm shop. The shop was lovely and had a wide select of home produce including beef, pork and lamb. As well as gifts, wines, teas and coffees.

So, the day was fun and we were lucky to have gone on a sunny day. However, I don’t think it is somewhere we will be rushing back too – I would say it is a little extensive for what is on offer.

Weekend prices

Adults £7.95

Children – £7.95

Family ticket (four people) – £30

Under Twos – Free

£3 parking

Some offers are available for weekdays.

How to survive the first weeks with a newborn!

IMG_0860

If you are a new parent who has just been handed this shiny newborn baby and you are wondering how you will cope with those sleepless nights – don’t worry you are not alone. Unless you have one of those super babies – I think most parents will agree with me – ‘nothing really works’. So the two key points that got me through were ‘mentally preparing myself no sleep’ and ‘accepting help during the day so that I could catch up on sleep’.

A newborn is brand new to this big world, they don’t understand where they are and they are scared. So they want to be close so its only natural that they do not want to be put down.

So for my first point ‘mentally preparing myself no sleep’ – the first three nights we tried everything to get Matilda to sleep ‘not on us’ but in her Snuzpod so that we could sleep. But she wouldn’t, she would have a feed, fall fast to sleep on me but as soon as I tried to put her down she would scream. By the third night I spent two hours crying as I thought I would never sleep during the night again, I thought my husband would go back to work in a few weeks and this would be my life now. On the fourth night we said lets mentally prepare ourselves for no sleep but make the night fun. So we stocked up on lots of goodies and films and took ourselves off to bed at 11pm prepared to cuddle Matilda all night with her waking every two hours for feeds – we named it the ‘milky rave’. That night was no where near as bad as the first three nights and I think this was because I wasn’t expecting to get much sleep and so I wasn’t stressing about it. From that night forward things started to get easier, for the next few weeks I did start to get a little more sleep, I was able to feed Matilda, cuddle her for half an hour till she was in a deepish sleep and then slowly transfer her to the Snuzpod. I would then have an hour or so sleep before she was awake again for the next feed.

I am lucky enough to have parents that were able to come round every few days to hold Matilda whilst I had a nap  in the afternoon. I would say if anyone offers to sit with your baby then take them up on it. During the first few weeks babies feed, sleep, repeat, so I would feed Matilda until she was asleep and then hand her over to one of my parents whilst I had a nap.

image1 (1)

If you are a new parent just going through this stage then rest assured it really will get better, I know it is annoying when people say that to you when you are in the middle of it but keep smiling, cuddle your baby, take any help offered and stock up on netflix series, books or whatever will get you through the ‘milky rave’ nights. We are with you!

How our holidays have changed now we have a baby !

So my husband and I have been together for ten years and we love to holiday! We love to chill by the pool, read a book in the sun whilst drinking cocktails. But oh how things have changed this year.

First of all it took me forever to actually book a holiday, spending hour after hour reading through reviews trying to find a resort that was perfect for what we wanted but also suitable for Matilda’s needs. So after a lot of research we booked the Blue Lagoon Princess in Halkidiki, Greece through Thomson.

So the first big change was the packing, oh my gosh do babies come with a lot of things. I’m used to having 20kg of luggage to myself and still going over. This year was very different, I had to decide what the absolute essentials where that I needed for the week, in order to make room for all of Matilda’s things.

I’m not normally fussy about where I sit on the plane and just wait until online check-in opens and hope that my husband and I can sit together. However, this year we paid for ‘seats together’, I write this in inverterted commas as Thomsons class two people sitting on two aisle seats with the aisle between them as ‘sitting together’ – I do not! As it was the first time flying with Matilda we wanted to make sure we were all sat together and not just one person left holding the baby. So we paid our extra for ‘seats together’ and set a reminder in our phones for 90 days before the flight to log on and be the first to choose our seats.

So the bags are packed, seats chosen and the day finally arrives to go on holiday – wohoooo. We normally drive to the airport and park the car at somewhere like jet parks. However, my dad decided that it was a silly idea for us to be parking  in the airport car park and then wait around for the transfer bus to the terminal in the middle of the night with a baby, instead he would transport us from door to door! This was great for us as it gave us an extra half hour in bed, and he even carried all the suitcases down to the car!

We arrived at the airport and the great thing about traveling with a baby is you get to go in the shorter security queue and board the plane first. As Matilda still drinks a lot of milk and needs sterilised water we were able to go through a special queue at security control as babies fluids are an exception to the 100ml fluids in your hand luggage rule. All the families with babies or little children boarded the plane first and handed their prams / strollers over to the airport staff. We however decided that we didn’t really want to be messing around with a pram in the airport and risk it getting damaged on the plane. So we decided to carry Matilda around in the sling whilst in the airport and hire a pram from the hotel through Thomsons – I would highly recommend this and it was a bargain at €10 for the week!

We arrived at our resort around lunchtime and with it being a Thomson’s Family Life resort the  animation team were outside waiting for our coach to arrive. We normally avoid the animation team like the plaque but Matilda’s face lit up when she spotted Thomson the dog! So we decided that this holiday we couldn’t avoid the animation team anymore and we would embrace the cheesiness by getting involved with the activities around the family pool. Matilda absolutely loved it. Everyday she would get so excited when having a splash around in the baby pool and she loved watching the older kids run around. Lucky for me my husband doesn’t mind spending time in the shade so that worked out well for me when I wanted to spend abit of time sun bathing.

Our evenings were very different but in a great way. Long gone are those days of getting dressed up, going out for a nice meal and staying out for wine and cocktails! This year we still all got a bit dressed up and would head out for food. Sometime between 8-9pm Matilda would get very grumpy, as this is way passed her normal bed time. So we would head back to our room and put her to bed. My husband and I would then have a few glasses of wine on our balcony whilst watching Matilda on the baby monitor.

So all in all this holiday was very different – but in a new amazing way. I would not change anything for the world. Matilda has absolutely loved it, she has made some great friends, relished the attention she has been given and most of all given us priceless memories.