Tag Archives: mama curious

For sun, fun and tranquility WITH KIDS? Go here

18 Sep

Now I have to kick things off by saying that in my previous, childless life, the thought of going to a ‘baby-friendly bolthole’ would have made me cringe at the least and vomit at the most.  In fact, in the early days of Nancy I probably still would have felt like this.  However, after a weekend with Nancy at the sort of Mr and Mrs Smith hotel we’d have gone to before as a couple, my view changed completely.

The hotel was gorgeous.  Lovely big bed, goose down duvet, free-standing bath etc etc.  BUT what I hadn’t considered is that it would be a tight squeeze to fit in the baby gym, the travel cot and all of our other gear.  That it would be tricky to find a place for the steriliser to live.  That at 2.30am we would all wake up for Nancy’s feed because the light would need to go on.  And the biggest oversight – that come 7pm we’d have to sit in complete darkness once Nancy had gone to bed for the night.  We had no choice but to watch Mad Men on the laptop ‘til it was time for dinner (damn).  We even had a cup of tea in the bathroom!  Needless to say, the weekend wasn’t exactly the rejuvenating one we desperately needed and hoped for.  Suddenly a baby-friendly bolthole was the *only* way I’d go away again.

So yes, for our first official family holiday we found ourselves a ‘baby-friendly bolthole’ near Valencia in Spain.  Caserio Del Mirador looked incredible on the website.  Pretty much all the baby gear already there (huzzah!), only five apartments in total, a massage lady (heaven), the choice to cook for yourself or join in with kids’ tea and adult evening meals.  There was also a lovely pool, cute bunnies, pigs, goats and so on.  Sounded like perfection.

And it was.  It’s stress-minimising’ness kicked in before we’d even left the house, as we didn’t have to take anything like as much stuff as we’d have done with any other holiday.  ** We didn’t even come close to our maximum baggage allowance!! ** 

Sarah and Johnny Robinson who own and run the place with help from their kids couldn’t be more friendly and accommodating.  In fact, when my luggage was left behind in London, Sarah quickly became my personal stylist – delivering me a new batch of lovely clothes each day. You can’t get more accommodating than that! In terms of everything else, they manage to balance the needs of the kids and their parents perfectly.  

Nancy loved scurrying around our spacious apartment, eating and playing with the other kids, feeding the pig, manhandling the bunnies, swinging in the playground, swooshing about in the pool and eating dead wasps (hmm).  And let’s face it, happy baby = relaxed parents. The fact that we didn’t always have to think about her next meal, be constantly washing up and doing all the things we’d normally do at home, meant that we could actually relax.  When she napped we’d lay by the pool, read our books, enjoy a beer or espresso in peace.  Then when she woke up we’d play, swim and explore.  Once she was down for the night, we could take our monitor up to Sarah’s outdoor kitchen (where there was actually a shelf and plug sockets for baby monitors!) and enjoy a delicious meal and A LOT of booze with the other parents. And Sarah’s cooking was a-maz-ing.  She had us in stitches over hilarious stories of their time in Spain and her life back in London as she casually knocked up nothing short of an incredible meal.  As a vegetarian I often struggle in Spain, but I ate SO well here.

I could go on and on about how wonderful this place is.  It really is.  In fact, after a stressful day at the beach due to Nancy wanting to practise her crawling, (crawling + sand + sun cream is not an ideal combination) followed by a vomiting attack on the way home, we joked that we should never leave the Caserio again all week. And then we didn’t.  While this meant we didn’t exactly get the most Spanish experience, we really did relax and had a wonderful time together as a family – all we really wanted.  We met some lovely people in the other parents and especially in Sarah and Johnny and their wonderful family. Next year we WILL be back and we may even explore beyond the Caserio!!

Curious Mama: ***** muchos opportunities for chilling, eating + exploring.
Curious Bubba: ***** just endless fun!

28 Aug

Chart on a Tuesday – a venn diagram on finding childcare

First of all, one thing I miss about work – unlimited Sharpies.  I can deal without a printer – am happy to handdraw.  BUT where is a Sharpie when you need one, hey?

So yes.  Here’s a venn diagram.  I wouldn’t be a Planner if I didn’t share the odd venn diagram.  This one is on finding childcare.  Something that has dominated my days (and nights) for the last month or so.  It’s a big thing and you need to get it right in order for you to be happy to go back to work.  This chart shows the balance of things you need to find in your chosen childcare.

An obvious one, but to make what will already be hectic mornings and evenings slightly less hectic is to find childcare that is close’ish to your house and also (where appropriate) to a station.  You need to be able to drop your child there on the way to work or be able to nip there and back in the car in 10 mins or so.

The most important one in my opinion.  In our case, Nancy will spend 4 days in childcare, so I feel she needs to be spending it with someone who will do more than just ‘go through the motions’ with her (I’ve seen a lot of simply going through the motions going on).  She needs to be in a stimulating environment, to be actively nurtured and developed and to be in a place where she feels safe and have all her needs attended to.  What was also important to me was that there was lots of other kids around for Nancy to socialise with and learn from. 

This is also very important.  I realised quite quickly that Nancy and I both needed to ‘click’ with whoever was going to be looking after her.  I spoke a lot to the people I visited to find out why they do what they do, what their views are on certain things, how they handle different situations and so on.  I also listened to see how interested they are in us and Nancy in particular.  Some barely even spoke to Nancy, let alone gave her a cuddle!  You want to believe that they’ve chosen this career because they genuinely love babies – that they love to see them develop and that you are in agreement on how children should be cared for.  You should also feel comfortable around them and talking to them and ideally feel like you could become friends.

To follow on from this, now that Nancy is moving around A LOT, I was determined to find somewhere with lots of space, stimulus and plenty of opportunities to play.  I felt that lots of childminders in particular had quite small houses considering how many kids they were looking after.  Many would just bring a few toys into the living room and let them get on with it.  The telly would often be put on.  The childminder I’ve now found has a gorgeous big playroom, packed with toys.  She does all sorts of activities with them including arts and crafts, picnics in the woods, games in the garden and trips to Kew Gardens.  Some childminders put the kids to sleep on the sofa or in buggies and sometimes they’d have travel cots.  I wanted to make sure Nancy had a separate place to sleep and that she’d at least have a travel cot to sleep in.

Now the most important thing is to find the right person, the right environment and to feel happy that your child will receive the best possible care.  But cost does have to come into it.  The ideal scenario is to find someone lovely who makes you feel sure that your child will be happy – this will mean you can go to work without a worry.  But if the cost of that options means you’ll be up all night worrying about cash, then that is not good at all. I came to a realisation that I could either afford an ok’ish Nanny, or a really great childminder.  You want to find the best care that your budget allows – finding a balance between this and all of the above.

Finding childcare is like buying a house.  You’ll look at a lot of options that are just wrong, wrong, wrong.  You’ll start to lose hope and think ‘perhaps I’m being unrealistic.  Maybe what I want just isn’t out there’, and then finally, you’ll find that perfect person / nursery, whatever.  And frustratingly it’s likely to happen at the very last minute.

Peckhead fun while we on hols (booo)

25 Aug

We always seem to be away when the best fun happens around here. So sad to be missing out on the Peckham Rye Fete next Saturday 1st September. While en route to Espana, trying to contain my wriggly little bug, I shall no doubt be wishing I were enjoying the dog show, Punch and Judy and the tea tent. What fun!

We’ll also be missing the bike-powered Nunhead Experience on Sunday 2nd September, which is just too exciting for words. Feels like a really creative and interactive day where you can make your own film, your own screen print, watch some performance art or enjoy some storytelling. Oh and they’re screening one of my favourite ever films, Bugsy Malone, in the evening.

…but at least it means I won’t have to make the difficult decision between this and my beloved West Norwood Feast.

(such beautiful artwork too, don’t you think?)

Clean and let cook!

24 Aug

I keep having this same conversation with other mums:

“What’s Nancy eating?”

“Bean cakes” (it’s not always bean cakes of course)

“Did you make them?”


(Raised eyebrows) often followed by something like, ”You know the pouches are just as good. They’re organic”.  Or “I just don’t know how you find the time”.

Some will call me an ‘organic mum’, or will say I’m uptight for wanting to only give my baby healthy, homemade food (what is this obsession with wanting to appear ‘chilled out’ anyway?)

This week the above conversation happened once again and afterwards I went back to the other mum’s house.  She then proceeded to clean obsessively.  Picking up every last tiny bit of dust that was on her kitchen floor.  In that moment I realised that where she spent her time keeping her house beautifully spotless, I used that time to cook Nancy’s meals*.  It’s actually all a matter of different priorities.  The fact is that we only have so many minutes in the day. So like with anything, we prioritise.  And things hold different levels of importance to each of us.  I’ve always been into nutrition and healthy eating.  This is particularly important to me due to stuff that happened in my past and also health reasons.  I always eat healthy, balanced meals with low sugar and salt myself – so why would I put anything different into the sparkly new body of my precious baby?

The problem is down to those cheeky little moments (or months!) of self doubt that we all have as new mums.  It’s the hardest job in the world…we all know this.  And we’ve never done it before.  The truth is that there is no right or wrong way – only ‘our way’.  To find the strength to find our way, we need the support of those around us.  Our friends, our family and the other new mums around us.  But because often us new mums are in a bit of a pickle, we sometimes feel the need to defend ‘our way’ when others do it differently.  That’s why conversations like that above happen.  But we must resist!  It’s not helpful.  Us mums need to stick together.

So yes, ‘Clean and let cook’, is what I say!

Show your Peckers ‘ppreciation

24 Aug

Oh how I love these Peckham souvenirs.  

Since my (tiny) statutory maternity pay has come to a tragic end, I am having to choose whether to invest in this AMAZE Peckham palm tree bag (£9.00)

Or this awesome ‘Peckham Jewels’ necklace (£22.00).  Both made by the talented lot at the Garudio Studiage (tongue twister indeed!)

What to do?

23 Aug

These pieces popped up on walls all over Dulwich across the summer. I’d read somewhere that they were reinterpretations of famous pieces from the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Coming across this one on Blackwater Street today inspired me to find out more.

Turns out they were created by street artist, Stik and were actually commissioned by the picture gallery – blurring the lines between street art and gallery art.  

Stik, it turns out is incredibly successful with the likes of Tinie Tempah and Ed Sheeran collecting his work. But he hasn’t always had it so good. He tells his fascinating personal story over here. Of his work he says: 

“They’re not just stickmen, they’re people. People became stickmen. They’re shorthand for emotions. They reflect how I feel. The curve of the back, how tucked in the chest is, if the arse is sticking out, whether they are knock-kneed. There’s a lot in the bend of a knee or the shrug of a shoulder.”

21 Aug

Chart on a Tuesday…how clean is your house?

Pregnant OCD’ers look away now. The inaugural ‘Chart on a Tuesday’ looks at the ups and downs of the cleanliness and general orderliness in our house as new parents.