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Saturday, 10 March 2018
I'm sure every parent can relate, sometimes getting out the door can be immensely challenging. Add another child and a dog to the equation - it can be a bit of a juggle. I often worry about having the work/life/family balance right. My to-do list is as big and chaotic as my laundry pile and I feel like the kids grow a month older every hour. Okay, slight over-exaggeration but I want to spend as much time as I possibly can playing and connecting with them while they are still pre-school age. I find the best way to make the hours in the day work for us is to make the most of the everyday chores and errands and inject a little bit of adventure where we can. This keeps the mum guilt at bay but also keeps life ticking over in order. Pretty much a win-win.

Due to our location, anything we do usually involves a car trip - whether it be the nursery run, grocery shop or even a walk with the dog. We rely on the convenience of our own transport to get the job done (& in all honesty if we didn't then I do NOT know how we would cope!). I've documented a few days in our life to show you that we are, like most, a very normal family doing regular things but always trying to make it the most fun & educational for the kids. 

Before I jump in, I want to thank Ford for collaborating with us on this post and lending us the lovely EcoSport Family car to use this week as we share our day-to-day with you. 


Fraser works shifts and my Mum is part-time, so where I can I like to take Ella to nursery on her own - just the two of us while Charlie is being watched. She thinks this is great, a real treat that it's her time. Our day usually always begins with a mad dash out the door - why is five minutes in the morning less time than five minutes the night before?! We have a laugh about her 'spinny' car seat and pretend she's on 'The Voice'. I have a playlist of all of Ella's favourite songs, and believe me, it's longer than playlists of my own! Once I've connected the phone to the car and get our music on it's time to sing our way to Nursery - yes, we are that family. The ones you see at the traffic lights belting out their best. It's great fun and keeps her entertained on boring trips plus I adore listening to her little voice attempting to hit the high notes, it makes me melt!

Pick up time is always lovely. There's really nothing nicer than when that classroom door opens and they run into your arms. Once we have shoes & jacket on, we usually count our steps, hop, skip or stomp our way back to the car which is another task - find where Mummy parked the car. It was a little trickier than usual as we are using the Ford EcoSport this week but she still managed to find it!



Now that we are approaching Spring and the nights are becoming lighter, we are trying to make the most of the evenings when Fraser comes home from work.

We tend to go a little road trip to take Lola out her interesting walks and are fortunate that we have some stunning places within a drive's reach. We love discovering new places and we vowed at the beginning of the year that we would spend more time discovering Scotland. Most of the trips require a bit of planning, organisation and in most cases time so the longer distance discoveries usually have to wait till the weekend. Until then, we tend to make our way to country parks locally or in this case we set off up the Campsie Hills just in time to watch the sunset. 

As a rule of thumb, family plans never go as intended - demonstrated beautifully by Ella who decided to opt out of the walk and napped instead. Not ones to be deterred by a minor change we parked up and had more of a stationary experience - ha! Lucky for us, Charlie can't yet walk so he was happy to bird watch from the comfort of my arm by the car. 

Lola also came out to stretch her legs for a while although to be fair I think she enjoyed the spacious car boot more! I love the way the door opens and closes in the EcoSport. I usually get the fear of bumping Lola's head as I close our own but this way is so much better. The rear window is low enough for her to do her nosey as we travel and she's also a part of the chat as she can see over the back seats.

When the sun set it was bitter cold, I've never been more grateful for a heated seat! We gave my Mum a call on the handsfree to instruct her to get the kettle on as we went to defrost and eat their biscuits for a visit. 



My three pieces of parenting advice are this :
  • Coffee
  • The art of distraction 
  • Involvement 
On that last point, this is the ONLY way I can get the food shopping done successfully (with a touch of the first and second points thrown in for good measure!) 

Her favourite thing to do in the supermarket is select nuts from the pick & mix station and use the scoops to fill her little bag. Of course, her snack of choice are the roasted almonds... The most expensive ones in the section so we pay the price for the good behaviour - a chocolate surprise egg now seems more appealing... and cheaper! In-between Ella's snack picking I frantically throw all the essentials we need into the basket, avoid the sweetie aisle and then we head to the check out. 

For us, having a big family car boot is an absolute must. If not for the dog, pram or sleepover trips to Nana's where they practically pack their entire rooms - then definitely for the food shopping. We did a relatively small shop dash today but believe me, if you watch my grocery hauls over on my channel then you know that my usual kitchen filler is plentiful! The average car would undoubtedly have shopping bag passengers on the seat no doubt setting off the seat belt alarm the entire way home which isn't annoying at all... but thankfully no issues with that here.



Everyone laughs because the thing I look forward to most when I'm having a break from Mum duties - whether it be a night out or something as simple as a child-free dentist appointment - is the conversations I can have start to finish without 'kidteruption' as I call it. Fraser & I barely get a chance to catch up with each other without having to meet the demands of our little loves mid-conversation, anyone else?! Some of the stories I want to tell him literally only last a minute real time but add 2 kiddies to the mix and I'm pretty sure I have been trying to tell that same story for over a week. That being said, we usually find the best way to get a good chat is to go a drive for coffee. OH YEAH! Living that wild parenting life! But seriously, those kids just love the sound of the car engine, the warmth of the heating and being cosy in their seats. This combo on an afternoon is sure to knock them for six making it the perfect time for Fraser and I to grab a hot one and have a gab. It seems the only shots we have these days are the extra espressos in our lattes but we wouldn't change a thing!


It's funny, we don't necessarily DO anything out of the ordinary - but I love how we make the ordinary something fun to do. The kids are our constant entertainment turning even the most normal of jobs into a story to be retold at the next family get-together. I think it's as simple as this. Having the ability to move and change the scenery for a while adds a freshness to the day/week/month but making sure we can do it altogether is what counts. It's so important to us to grow together, our dog included because we are a family. The five of us. And it's the most regular of things like a family car trip where we can go and enjoy new experiences together that our children will cherish as a memory. 'I had the best time playing my tablet all day long when I was 6' said no kid ever. Go adventure!

This is a paid partnership with Ford. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.


Sunday, 21 January 2018
From the moment you even think about the 'weaning' your baby you instantly worry about the possibility of having a fussy eater. I know I did anyway. 

Being a particularly fussy eater myself growing up, I dreaded my children would be the same. However I seemed to have struck lucky with Ella since she would pretty much eat anything and everything in sight with no complaints. People would remark on how wonderful she was with her meals and that for such a small child her adventures with food and taste were almost limitless. Although I was always immensely proud of her progress, part of me always knew that this was just the honeymoon period. As an Aunt to older children, I remember that they always seem to go through a fussy stage - or rather realise that they can say the word 'no' and use it as and when they please. More notably at the dinner table - a favourite.

With Ella turning 3 this Summer we are in prime 'Fussy Eating' territory meaning we were ultimately in the best position to put her to the Annabel Karmel 7 Days of Meals challenge. 

Annabel Karmel has developed a range of healthy and nutritious chilled toddler meals that are not only balanced and delicious but they contain at least one of your child's 5-a-day. Each meal is free from artificial preservatives and have also received an added seal of approval from leading nutritionist and dietician Sarah Almond Bushell.

The meals are super conveniently made in the microwave, meaning that even on the busiest of days your kids will still get the best out of meal times. Healthy meals made with convenience usually suggests a sizeable price tag so I before I show you our weekly food diary & thoughts I wanted to let you know that the meals are on promotion just now in tesco for just £2 (CLICK HERE)! They're suitable for freezing too so stock up!


We have a routine in place where Ella stays overnight with her Grandparents every Sunday until dinner time on the Monday evening. Where I can I like to try and lighten the load for them & leave her with a meal for them to easily prepare for her so they can have optimum time playing and spending time together. I sent over the Mild Chicken Tikka with Rice which was a complete hit. In my Mum's words 'she scoffed the lot'. 

I was really impressed by the portion size and the amount of chicken in the meal. It was reassuring to know that she is getting enough protein in her diet as it can sometimes be a struggle to have her try some meat. 

We often have curries at home and Ella is usually fairly curious to try some but the outcome is more often than not that it's 'too bicey' (spicy) for her so I'll be repurchasing these for those occasions when we are having a curry at home or maybe a takeaway so she doesn't feel left out.


I knew tonight's dinner would be somewhat challenging. Ella is going through a fussy phase at the moment with mashed potato which is crazy because at one point it was all she would ask for! With confidence from the success of the previous meal, I delved in and tried her with Annabel's Tasty Chicken & Potato Pie and in all honestly she initially wouldn't entertain it whatsoever. 

Thinking it had been a complete flop I decided to give it to Charlie instead as he turns one in a couple of weeks, making the meals suitable for him too which is great! Low and behold as soon as little brother was tucking into her dinner she developed an appetite and gave it a good go. When kids are being fussy I think it's always important to be patient and understanding. Sometimes it's just down to personal preference and sometimes it's a battle of wills but I do tend to re-try the things she refuses on another day/week/month so she can have another go.


Ella has always been much more interested in fish than meat/poultry which I found bizarre! I'm not sure if it's because it doesn't require as much effort and maybe by dinner time she just wants something easy to eat so I knew she would enjoy the Scrummy Fish Pie. Today we were really busy, it was one of those days where one minute it was breakfast time, I blinked, then it was dinner all of a sudden so I was thankful that the chilled meals take just over 2 minutes to make in the microwave. Charlie had the same meal too and they both devoured it, I think they'd challenged each other to a race that I wasn't aware of!!


We had friends over for dinner tonight which usually spells disaster for Ella's meal time as she's either practically cartwheeling round the living room in a bid to show off or she's playing with their little boy and our house turns into a toy shop! To put it simply, eating her dinner isn't exactly top of her to-do list. 

That being said, she did give her Tomato & Marscapone pasta a good shot. I think it was more a case of 'If I eat this quickly, I get to go back & play again' and that's what she did. From a Mummy's perspective I was delighted as there are hidden veggies in there & she was none the wiser - that's definitely a WIN in my book!


Is it bad that I had MAJOR food envy with Ella's Lovely Beef Lasagne tonight? I'd have been quite happy if she refused it because my meal would have been sorted... no such luck - she loved it. 

For us, this was a bit of a breakthrough. We have been really struggling to get her to eat pasta after going through a rocky patch. We managed to get her to go back to eating pasta shapes but sheets? They were a big No-No. I remember one day she literally made herself sick from being so repulsed by the lasagne I had given her. It's not the ragu that's the issue it's the large pieces of pasta she can't stand so when she contently tucked into her meal I was scared to even commend her as I didn't want to break her concentration. She told us it was yummy when she finished and we applauded her amazing efforts. That is definitely one for the repurchase list!


If you follow me over on instagram (HERE) then you'll probably already know how much of a huge meatball fan Miss Ella is. Not only does she snack on them and have them as part of a meal but she also makes them in her play dough kitchen so they absolutely hold a dear place in her heart! We had one of those kind of Saturdays where Lunch and Dinner kind of merged into the one thing so I bulked out the Tomato and Marcapone pasta with the Mighty Meaty Bites which are already a firm favourite here. 

These ones are made with pork, beef, apple and seasoned with thyme, garlic and black pepper but there's also a Chicken bites option too.

The great thing about the pasta dishes is that the sauce is lovely & thick so she could manage to eat relatively neatly without dripping it everywhere. It also gave her a great dip for the meatballs too.


We had plans to go out with friends for dinner on Sunday so both Ella & Charlie has some Chicken Bites along with crackers and some grapes, picnic style for their lunch. I love making them their own little mini buffet on a plate with lots of selection. The Chicken Bites are so soft making them a great option for Charlie and only take 40 seconds in the microwave to heat up so it's the quickest lunch ever. They would also make for a perfect sandwich filler if you slice them up or a great addition to any kind of pasta dish. Clean plates all round!

We have always been massive fans of Annabel Karmel - from the cookbooks with great advice to the much-loved snacks that keep my kids quiet while I run a much needed errand. I went into this challenge and knew without doubt that I wouldn't be disappointed. AK is a brand we have trusted right from the beginning of our parenthood journey and as they kids grow up I love that the options available to them are growing too. 

You can shop the range at Tesco here : or in your local store where the meals will be reduced to £2 until the end of January.

I'd love to know your experiences, leave a comment below or follow me on instagram @mamareidwrites to get involved with the conversation!

*sponsored by Annabel Karmel


Friday, 6 October 2017

When I was pregnant with Ella, my first born, I was forever enticed into my maternity leave by the reassuring and somewhat encouraging comments (in hindsight, mostly from males - which makes sense now!) talking about the wonderful holiday I would be taking from work as I venture into the world of Motherhood. Maternity leave was painted as this beautiful picture of ladies who lunch, walks in the park and sipping on an abundance of tea while catching up on the car crash TV that my other half point blank refuses to watch post 7pm. Leaving the 'actual' world of work would open my time up to afternoon naps, a free schedule of 'me time' because after all, I didn't have a 9-5 anymore plus baby's need sleep so how else could I possibly fill my days when there was no more grind?

In actuality, this preconceived, delirious perception of Motherhood and Maternity Leave couldn't be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is that I have never sat down less, slept more appallingly or drank more bitter cold cups of tea in my puff. I'm pretty sure I've bored holes in my carpet running up my 'Mum Miles' up and downstairs - and that was just for the 7493629 things I forgot to pack in my changing bag before I left the house! Want to become fit? Become a parent!

Contrary to my fellow office buddies belief, recent research shows that new parents spend an average of 8 hours on their feet every day, with some (30%) on theirs for more than 10 hours - the category that I undoubtedly fall into! This is almost double the average person in a sedentary environment, completely throwing my 'Maternity Leave Holiday' out of the window.

Fast forward a couple of years and here I find myself again, on my 'Maternity Leave Vacay'. More tired than ever but doing the most rewarding job as I care for my two little bundles of chaos. My 'Mum Miles' seem to have more than doubled which seems crazy, I only added one more to the quota so it should all be relative, right? Wrong! I've been monitoring my day-to-day activity with a FitBit and couldn't believe the results. Between this and sharing every single meal with a curious 2 year old, it's a wonder I'm not a beach body ready!

As part of the Graco Parenting Miles campaign I have been trying out the incredible Featherweight pushchair. Upon it's arrival I was ready and braced to take the delivery from the mail man only to feel like I'd just accepted delivery of an empty box. I was astounded at how at this early impression it was already living up to it's featherweight claims.

Weighing only 3.6kg and with a one-hand fold system, it's the most fuss free pushchair we have used. Its compact fold makes it the perfect pushchair for walks in the park and travelling. We often struggle to fit our dog in the car boot as well as a pushchair when we set off on family adventures but with the Graco Featherweight this isn't an issue. I've already got it top of the list for our family holiday next year as it will certainly lighten the load.

The convenience of the pushchair and it's lightweight attributes are one thing, but as you all know I love fashion it is super important to me. Usually if something has a great feature like this, you compromise on style - not with the Graco Featherweight.It's contemporary design is so sleek and it comes in the on-trend tones of Grey but also Red for the more daring among us. So not only is it a wonderful addition for a more simplistic running of the day, it's also an easily co-ordinating piece too.

As you will know, I love a Parenting Hack, Tanith Carey, author of Parent Hacks has shared her top tips on how to bring more convenience to your day. Here are some of my favourites :

  • Forget bulky handbags which can turn into bottomless pits. Free up your hands whilst pushing a pushchair by wearing a back pack instead.
  • Choose one accessible pocket in your bag where – without fail – you ALWAYS put your essentials, such as your debit card, phone and keys when you’re on the move. That way you will avoid panicky moments rooting around to find them – or worrying you’ve left them somewhere.
  • Before heading out to the shops with your pushchair, make sure you don’t overload yourself by taking a picture on your phone of the inside of your fridge, so you have an instant visual reminder of what you do and don’t need to buy.
  • To give you the ultimate freedom outside the home whether you’re on a day-out, shopping or climbing stairs, choose a lightweight pushchair. At 3.6kg, the Graco Featherweight is about the weight of an average newborn baby, and suitable from birth to 15kgs or approximately 3 years.
  • To save on trips collecting missed online deliveries, make friends with your postman and local delivery drivers for the companies you use most. There’s nothing more irritating than narrowly finding the ‘Sorry We Missed You’ card on the doormat and then having to re-arrange delivery, or trudge to a collection point and wait in a queue, with baby or toddler in tow.
  • Go shopping at the quietest times – early morning is good. With young children, you’re more likely to be up than the rest of the adult population. Or, now that there are more 24-hour supermarkets, if you have a partner who’s at home, go at night when the kids are in bed to avoid stress, tantrums from bored children, and longer trips. 

So with all of those points noted and my Graco Featherweight pushchair, I feel armed and ready for more of this motherhood madness! It lays down flat for sleepy time and has a huge under storage area, now all I need to do is pray for a long afternoon nap so I can go shopping and put that basket to good use!

*this post was sponsored by Graco. As always, all content created and opinions are my own.


Monday, 7 August 2017
I'm a great believer in allowing your child some TV time. I feel that this along with active learning has provided Ella with a stimulus for discovery and for her imagination to flourish. Now that Charlie's attic nursery is almost complete, we have decided to add a TV into the space to give them both an area to spend time together watching movies & shows.

All seemed straight forward until we stumbled upon the difficulty of connections, TV packages and more importantly the cost to add another room to our current bundle. It was all really complicated and ultimately super expensive. But what good was a TV without any shows? None really.

I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do and although I knew we had the option to watch DVDs through the little TV we chose, I also know all too well how my child's mind changes like the weather never mind the faff associated with storing DVDs or making sure the toddler doesn't scratch, eat or use said discs as Barbie's fancy new dinner plate. My vision of a little movie hideaway in the nursery was feeling out of reach until I was offered the opportunity try the NOW TV Kids Pass & it's like it covered all bases.

The smartly compact box with it's own handy remote was the solution we were looking for. It connects through one HDMI cable, runs through your home broadband (wirelessly - yay!) and that's pretty much it! Fuss-free, effective & so user friendly. It's opened our extra little attic telly into hours of fun with a huge variety of 1000s of choices on the library. Not only are there so many amazing shows to choose from, the big name favourites are on the NOW TV Kids Pass. Massively popular shows like, Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol and so many more. You'll be guaranteed to come across some notable character in the huge selection of awesome shows! I think this is great because it means easily distracted children, like my own, can move on to something fresh when they exhaust their current favourite!

After connecting the box it prompted me to sign up for a NOWTV account. As soon as I see/hear 'open an account' for me, naturally, alarm bells start ringing. (Is that just me or anyone else?) But rest assured, this isn't conventional monthly subscription as you are not tied to any contract and for just £2.99 (yes, less than £3 a month) you have a complete array of programmes and movies through the NOW TV Kids Pass to allow your littles to explore. I couldn't believe it was going be cost less than £1 a week to keep my little ones entertained! It's such incredible value for money and the best deal I've seen!

What I love most, other than the vast selection of choice, is the parental controls on the box. I have complete piece of mind knowing that the information and programmes shown on screen are going to be age appropriate, even if Ella gets hold of the remote and tries to start navigating herself, which is super easy to do with the simple design and set-up. This would also come in handy if you take advantage of the NOW TV Entertainment Pass which is more geared towards teens & adults. The kids On Demand content has no ads - hurrah! This is most pleasing for my impatient 2 year old who is only too keen to skip these on other social platforms!

The NOW TV Kids Pass is home to a number of favourites like Peppa Pig, My Little Pony, Paw Patrol and so many more! For us, it's actually cheaper to cancel these from our main TV and Broadband package and simply have them through our NOW TV box - it's a no brainer!

We spent a rainy Sunday afternoon watching Dora the Explorer & The Gruffalo. Ella loved looking at the huge list of shows to choose from and selecting her favourite. It gave me some much-needed quiet time to tidy the room and put away some laundry before I joined in on a snuggle & chilled out too.

Not only is the NOWTV Box + Kids Pass the ideal solution for additional rooms, it's also easily transferable to the main TV in your living space as the compact box simply unplugs and can be reconnected to any TV output.

When you sign up for a NOW TV account you can enjoy a 14 day free trial. What's great is that you don't even require a box, you can simply download the app to any device and stream the fun straight to your phone/tablet. Keep the kids entertained with awesome kids TV with a NOW TV Kids Pass or grab a NOW TV Entertainment Pass for the latest must-see TV shows for the rest of the family. Visit to start watching!

*This post is sponsored by NOW TV and The Studio @ Evolve.


Tuesday, 1 August 2017


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

I'm not going to lie, bed time hasn't been the easiest recently. I don't know whether it's the on set on terrible twos or if Ella just feels a little left out since Charlie is still sitting downstairs with us when she goes to bed. We are trying to settle things down and get back on track as bed time has never been an issue for us with Ella, I accredit this to the fact we did controlled crying from around 6 months with her and it worked a treat.

In a bid to try and make her own bed a more appealing place we have tried using new blankets (Ella's special 'blank' as she calls it), regressing slightly by giving her a bedtime bottle and reading a multitude of stories before she falls asleep. Admittedly all of these attempts have failed and call me a bad parent but I've had to leave her crying herself to sleep because otherwise she'd be up all night. It's really awful. It makes me feel like a failure, Fraser & I sometimes come to disagree because we are frustrated and all the while we have got a little baby to watch too. It's just a terrible combination. I often but it down to being lucky in all other aspects of the day & this is just my deserved dose of bad behaviour because it's only fair.

Although this is only a recent issue, maybe the past 4 weeks, it hasn't really translated to overnight stays at my mums house. My mum has her own bed time routine with Ella where she puts her to bed and uses her Sonos Music System (basically speakers integrated into her ceiling and operated by a base unit) to play lullabies and this really works to send her off to sleep. 

We looked into doing the same in our house and it was going to cost a fortune. We often thought about leaving our phones/tablets in the room too but then notifications from social media or if I have to do a little bit of work meant that wasn't the best option. Plus it would also involve having to go back later to take it out and risk waking her up - not one I was willing to take! 

Then I seen the Zazu Music Box and thought we'd found a cheap solution! We opted to get Zoe the Penguin, a cute little speaker that connects via bluetooth to your smartphone and plays your music. It's even compatible with your spotify playlists so you can create your own or use the handy pre-made Zazu Night Time playlist. 

If you're out and about you can take Zoe the penguin on the go and it even has an attachment to clip on to your pushchair meaning you won't lose it. The speaker has some pre-programmed music too including white noise, heartbeat, birds tweeting and many more. Ella's favourite is the lullaby which we have been playing for her the past few nap times/bed times and although there may be a few tears and tantrums, they're short lived!

The speaker also has volume control which I love! Most of these products only have one setting whereas at least you can turn this up and down dependant on the setting you're looking to accommodate. It works wirelessly and the battery life lasts forever. We haven't had to charge it in the week that we have used it and Ella has also been playing with it outwith napping.

I'm glad to see a product that  has actually adapted with the changes in technology and can fit in with a modern lifestyle but more than that I love that it may have brought us a solution to a stressful bedtime!


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