Category Archives: Parenting

Back to School

Back to school!

I honestly don’t know where the last 12 weeks went and I would love to tell you that “I am a beginner” at this school mama jazz but we are in this game 5 years now so I really should be more prepared.

I feel like I have just released my freshly made (in my head) 10 and 7 year olds back to the school yard. Back to their teachers and friends and really I am hoping that they come out of school as happy as they went into school. No one prepares you for the feelings that hit you as a mother the first week back each year.

The excitement of them returning to school and you getting a well deserved break can sometimes be over shadowed by the fears of them not enjoying themselves.

Will they make friends?
Will they remember to go to the bathroom?
Will they eat their lunch?
Will they be happy?

The list is endless and the anxiety we feel as parents is fierce.

5 years in and we have been too early, too late, eaten the contents of our lunch box in the back seat of the car, stripped off uniforms in the heat, fought over missing library books and of course, the obligatory spilling of drinks all over the back seat leading to smells like no other and all this before I race them in the door at 7:30am just in time for the national anthem.

How do we do this for the next 18 years?

I may not be able to solve most of the above problems for you. So anything that will make life easier will be happening on the daily. Let’s call them small wins.

  1. Lunches – Checking out blog posts on the just kidding feed as Instagram lunch box queen @ieatmypeas has covered this so well. So many tips and tricks to make life easier for picky eaters.
  2. Back packs – There are some lovely choices at Just Kidding.
    My top tips would be to have the bag ready for the next day before bedtime so there is less stress in the morning.
  3. Having the uniform out, underpants, socks, shoes. I find when it is laid out there are fewer arguments in the morning. I also get them to have their breakfast in their pajamas so there are fewer spillages!
  4. Car seats – Being safe should be everyone’s first tick off the list. High back car seats to and from school are a must!  For the school tours or school buses I would highly recommend the Mi Fold for those who need one handy in their school bags. There should be no price on a child’s safety but these really are priced well and fully approved!


Love, Helly x


Being a mother of my two boys aged 3.5 years and 1.5 years I have had to rewrite my idea of being a mother and life itself.

Over the past few years I have tried to come to terms with my feelings by reflecting on why exactly I feel it is so different to be mother of boys.

It’s not just the energy, wrestling, toys, the games, the clothes… It’s also the interests you have in common, the relationship you expect in the years to come, and the general understanding of life experience as a man versus a woman.

With understanding and actually going through it. I have tried to think of practical ways I can embrace being a mother of boys.

I realize this may seem silly to those who have a daughter, or mothers who have got beautiful sons who may not be like mine. But I feel this is an important topic to post about as I have had conversations with many other “boy moms” and know I am not alone in this challenge.


Here are just few simple tips I am doing my best to embrace being a mother of boys.

– Talk to other moms of boys

This has got to be the most important one. Talking to someone who is going through something similar is so so important. Like being pregnant, when you talk to other pregnant women you feel normal, you feel empowered and sympathetic. Just like that talking to other moms of boys will make you feel like you are not alone if you are going through certain struggles.

– Read about boy parenting

Now this might sound silly but again I feel the reason to write this blog is because I have read a lot online the past few years. And it really gives you insight and different ideas to deal with different situations.

– Take some time out for some girly stuff

One of the most important tips is to be a girl yourself. In all those wrestles, getting kicked and punched or probably head butted you might feel like a wrestler yourself. It’s important to take time out for yourself. Where you take care of your skin/nails/hair etc because that’s a girl thing to do and helps you feel like a girl in a house full of boys.

– Getting physical with them is natural

Now this might not make sense to some but with both my boys it is the case. Boys love to be physical; whether it’s playing or getting a cuddle off them. Both my boys love when I pick them up or when they lay down on my chest to have a cuddle. This is just them showing you their affection and they’re way of connecting with you, being their mother.

Saba Shoaib

Travel Tips

If you are about to embark on the 1st trip with your 1st child, or your 10th trip with your 3rd child, traveling with kids will always be daunting. There is so much to think about. What to pack? How to get there? It’s a mind boggle with so many potential worries.

These are some tips that I believe will help parents from going insane.

Some are for babies, some are for older children, some for you but one thing is for sure, preparation is key and once you arrive at your destination it will all be worth it!


Take it slow

You do not need to be the first on the plane nor do you have to be the first to get off the plane. Sit back and let everyone else rush around you. Take deep breaths and move when you are ready.


Don’t over pack

Remember that almost everything can be bought abroad. It might not be the same brand, but you’ll manage. Your nappy bag will count as your carry on, so make sure you’ve got everything. Baby wipes in abundance, Nappies, Baby food/Snacks, For bigger kids chewy sweets to avoid sore ears on takeoff and landing, change of clothes for all, one plastic bag to store anything that may get destroyed, headphones and a little bag with medicines you might need.


Brand your little

This may sound awful. How could you lose your child? Honestly – It happens. You are busy and they are distracted and airports are bright and shiny! A friend told me that she started writing her number across her child’s arm for such events and I really thought this was clever.


Baby wearing or a travel stroller for the win!

This is of course a personal choice. I am the crazy person that loves a sling and also a Yo-Yo. The sling for going through all the security points and also I can feed her in the sling and she would happily sleep in it. The Yo-Yo for when I am in need of my own space and she is happy to sit and watch everything around her. The one thing she loves about airports – People watching!


Small gifts

When you really feel like you need a break -new toys wrapped up make for a great distraction. It may only give you 15minutes but any 15minutes is a win in my eyes.



All screen time rules should go out the window for a bit of peace! Who’s with me? In all honesty though, Netflix allows you to download their favorite shows on to your device and it has saved me on so many occasions. Remembering that a lot of planes don’t allow the on flight entertainment to start until up in the air and sometimes there is a big wait from boarding to that point. You can also get kid friendly and educational games that they haven’t played yet to hold their attention.



If in doubt, no amount of food is an issue. Keep feeding. Hopefully not all sugary treats (just so you have some hope of a nap) but my little’s love food so it is a great distraction.

Timing is everything – I like to plan my flights around bedtime if at all possible. Evening flights can be more expensive, but a sleeping child is good for my sanity and of course everyone else’s ears. Give yourself a couple of hours if connecting on to another flight to stretch legs, visit bathrooms, eat, talk, play, and get ready for the next flight.


Where to sit?

The middle of the plane gives you the option of using the bulkhead seats. Not only would you get more legroom and more floor space for play – it also means the possibility of a baby cot. However, it also means that you wont have any storage under the seat in front of you. Sitting at the front is similar to the back, except the kitchen area is typically smaller, and busier. One other thing to consider that really depends on the child’s age is, window or aisle seat? You need to decide is it better to be tucked away or have space to move.


Check in online

One of the biggest blessings the internet brought to us was online check in! Minimize your time once you arrive at the airport. One of the easiest things to do is online check in. All you have to do is drop the bag and go through security. All about the easy, stress free options.


Arrive Early

You may have checked in online but it is still far easier to do the queues of visa control and bag drop at your own ease. Get through it calmly and try to let the kids run about and use up all of their energy closer to your departure gate.


Keep calm

What is the worse that could happen? Yes your child could scream or make you feel like all eyes are on you but who really cares. It is a moment in time that you will have survived. Sit back and enjoy whatever moments are enjoyable. Remember that YOU will be FINE!

When you get there treat yourself to something you like.

Happy Holidays!!


Author: Helly O’Brien

Ramadan as a mum of two toddlers

Ramadan, a blessed month, something I was looking forward to until it finally arrived.
I am scared now, how I will manage with two little kids? Two boys aged 3 and 1, then summer heat to deal with on top of it all.

A typical Ramadan evening before children used to be sitting down and reading the Quran and listening to some amazing lectures from the scholars.
Now with two boys to care for I suppose it will be bath and bedtime as usual.
By the time I will sit down to read the Quran I doubt I will manage a chapter before I am knocked out.

Suhoors are going to be very tricky for me. I am so confused of how I will sneak out in the kitchen to actually enjoy some food without waking them up.

My worst nightmare would be to start the day with the boys awake at Fajr, which will be around 4:15 am.
If I am lucky that they are still asleep, how will I manage to get back into bed knowing I have to be up again at 6:30-7 am for when the boys will start their day?

Spending a pre-kid Ramadan day used to be so relaxing and peaceful.
I would wake up at noon having had a good rest and then I would perform Salah etc.
I am so scared of being awfully tired (especially without coffee) and having to keep the two boys entertained for the whole day, especially when my older one doesn’t nap during the day.
How will I manage the boys until Iftar without actually taking a nap?
Park times are going to be pure torture for the poor mum.
Let’s cross our fingers for me to actually be engaged enough in the day for my boys and also to work on myself spiritually.

This Ramadan I will be taking the challenge to be more patient and peaceful inside, to be a better human. I am sure to be an improved mother after this Holy month leaves us.

Author: Saba Shoaib –

Top 5 baby essentials on baby number 3

Baby Number 3 made me realise that you really don’t need ALL THE THINGS. Granted there are so many beautiful pieces you could choose for your baby but this time round I just want the essentials. When I say essentials I am not talking about nappies and wipes, I mean simple things that I’ve found make life just that little bit easier in the first few days, weeks and months with your new bundle.

Bedtime Bliss = Baby Bay Original

A bedside crib. When we had the first two girls they were in a traditional moses basket and because I was breastfeeding I’d be up and down all night like a yoyo, both to feed and check on them. Then I discovered this bedside crib, which fixes to the edge of your bed so if you’re breastfeeding or just want to check on them there’s no need to get up at all. Because their mattress is level with yours, so you can see them at all times. Therefore when it comes to feeding you simply pull them over, latch them on, sit up to burp them and put them back. I can’t stress enough how much of a game changer this is.

Comfort = Sleepyhead Deluxe

The Bay Bay crib is also exactly the right size to hold a sleephead deluxe which is essentially a nest for your baby. Just place them inside it when they are due a sleep. They feel safer, snug and secure. I put my Sleepyhead inside the Baby Bay (above) at night time and during the day I either put it on the sofa (before she was able to roll) and when we travelled I used it in a travel cot or if the bed was big enough I would put the sleepy head in between us.

Baby wearing = Ergobaby Aura Baby Wrap

Because, as much as you’d like to sit around on the sofa all day with your baby sleeping on you, it’s not always practical. This Ergobaby carrier I loved!! You can wear it in so many different ways – inward, hip or back – and you can do all sorts while wearing it from cooking a meal to breastfeeding on the go. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it.

Room Safety = Gro-Egg

At a simple glance, this Gro-Egg will show you whether your baby’s room is at the right temperature, using a colour coded system of blue, amber or red. This product gives such reassurance to new parents who are paranoid about everything, so I would really recommend it to them. Even after 3 kids it gives me peace of mind that Fiadh-Belle is sleeping well in the right conditions. I really did struggle to know what temperature she should be in. Hot outside in Dubai and Cool inside due to air-conditioning, so this was a great device for me. The Gro-Egg is such a simple, easy to use product.  Plug it in (in a sensible location) and you’re done. No need to change batteries or re-charge it. I have been using it for almost two months now. I installed it in our bedroom where she is still sleeping – When she sleeps. I also bought a cover for it in Just Kidding; you can get an owl, a lamb, or a penguin to put over the egg, making it look like a gorgeous, glowing animal friend. I invested in an owl and I love it.

Getting a break = Babybjorn Bouncer

I used the Babybjorn Bouncer since Fiadh-Belle was about two weeks old and was still finding it as useful at ten months as back then. A completely adaptable bouncer that’s simple, brilliant and provides a comfortable, safe place to put your baby down when you need the use of your arms… Which is all the time! The BabyBjorn Bliss to me is an updated version of those classic bouncers that they had in the eighties (Hello! I am an 80’s baby) – the bouncer that many of my own baby pictures were taken in. It has a fabric seat that moulds to the baby’s body and supports their head and neck. The baby’s weight is evenly distributed so that even the smallest baby is properly held. No little heads bobbing forward or necks dropping into awkward an position which is incredibly important in the first few months. Yes! There are no inbuilt “tunes” or vibrating seats or dangling plastic crap or gimmicks with the BabyBjorn, but this bouncer just does what it says on the box… bounces. It was my go to when I needed to put Fiadh-Belle down and was super easy to transport when I went to visit friends.

So that’s it, my top 5 newborn essentials. Have you used any of these items? What would make your list of top 5 newborn essentials? I’d love to know!


Author: Helly O’Brien

The three-nager

Before becoming a parent, I often found myself rolling my eyes at parents discussing the “terrible two’s” and then of course followed by the “terrible threes,” and so on. I found myself thinking, “how terrible could they really be?”

And then, like an almighty slap in the face, I discovered just how terrible they could be.

In fairness to the child currently in question, she more or less skipped over the “terrible twos.” Generally speaking, her twos were a happy, energetic, fun filled year. Well, for her at least. For me, although rewarding and cheerful in many ways, it was an exhausting period of having just past parenting a helpless little baby, but also not quite at the point of having a reasonably self-sufficient toddler. And to add insult to injury, I fell pregnant with our second child during this stage, so my energy levels were mostly at a low, while my daughter’s energy levels were at an all-time high. That said, the terrible twos have nothing on the “terrible threes.” Or as I like to call it “the three-nager” stage.

The three-nager stage is when you realise you have a three-year-old teenager. A three-year-old that is mentally convinced that he/she is in fact 13 years old and has all of life’s answers in their growing, albeit currently tiny, little brains.

Don’t get me wrong- I adore my three-nager. And on many, if not most occasions, she has brought me immense amounts of amusement with her sassy, vivacious personality. But, if I thought having a two-year-old was exhausting, having a three-year-old is near knocking me out.

I live in constant fear of cutting her toast in the incorrect manner. Does she want triangles, rectangles or squares today? Getting it wrong can be deadly, so best to ask and hope that once you’ve adhered to her request, she doesn’t change her mind.

I have to plan to leave at least 10 minutes early whenever  we’re heading out together, because Miss Independent can do everything by her “own self.” Until of course she can’t and that leaves me scrambling with new baby, children’s bags and stroller in arms, trying to assist said three-nager in doing up the shoes that she insisted she could do up on her own, followed by deep breaths, waiting for another 10 minutes while she also buckles herself into the car seat on her own.

But my favorite (or not so favorite) trait is my three-nager’s newfound negotiation skills. She can literally negotiate her way out of a time out and I then find myself somewhat impressed of her skill level instead of angry about the reason she was meant to be in a time out in the first place.

I also feel like I was completely ill-prepared for the speed at which a three-nager can go from happy-go-lucky playing and laughing child, to 1988 Chucky and then back again. I’m told this is completely normal, but I most certainly have my doubts!

Three-nagers are tough to parent, make us weary, and zap us of all of our patience and energy. But on the flip side, this time can be so rewarding. As our threenagers’ independence blooms so does their vocabularies, and sometimes we hear lovely things like, “You’re my best friend Mummy, I love you soooo much!” And those moments are the moments that make it all worthwhile.

Author: Kat Lebrasse

Digital Detox

For me this is one of the MUST DOs in modern life, every few months. Having two toddlers, managing a home and on top of it all doing Blogging is just not an easy task.

Don’t get me wrong, I am blessed to be living this life but I do get my lows and when that happens I have to take a BREAK.
My style of digital detox is not only just my phone, for me it is cutting out any kind of screen time and instead I focus mainly on spending quality time with family, and even just on my own.

Doing a digital detox really helps me to focus and reflect on work and it always makes me realize all the positives that I have in my life, but because I am overwhelmed, have been ignoring.

It can be work related or personal.

I strongly believe that if you are mentally clear on whatever you want in life, it comes to you.

The “blogging world” brings with it a lot of pressure: How good should my blog look? How much am I putting into it? Always thinking that someone else is doing better than me, etc.
It can really get into your head and that’s when I seriously think of having a little break.

A Digital Detox doesn’t really need to be a week; sometimes for me it is only a day or a weekend. I have even taken 2 months off too because of my health and I don’t regret it.

It’s all about shutting yourself away from all the outside influences of social media, screens and the constant updating, and just focus on what you are living or going through at that very moment. It highlights all the small things I usually miss out or probably just ignore because I am so occupied.

After doing one I find myself more motivated to restart the work/life. So don’t just take my word to it, I highly recommend you to try it and make it part of your life.

Author: Saba Shoaib, Mummy and Blogger @thebeautybarbysaba

Must have baby essentials for a second-time mom

Do I Really Need More Stuff?

Oh, I bet the first time around you took the time to read and invest in all the baby stuff/gear you thought you’d need, but some items you never used..

The second time around you are more likely to invest in things that are essential must-haves and made your life easier during your first-born.
All those things you actually put to good use.

Granted, once you’ve had a child, you don’t need quite as much the second time around, that’s if you actually had additional space to save it all.
In my case I got rid of everything because of lack of space, also being an expat means additional load when moving homes.

On the other hand, if you have all the basics taken care of, now may be a great time to invest in some of those “extra” things that you know will make life easier as a mother of more than one child.
Here’s my list of top 5 must haves for a second-time mum:

#1 Baby Carrier or Wrap

First time around it was easier with just having to take care of one. Now with two in tow you’ve got to care for a new born and take care of a toddler/preschooler that means trying to get school pick-ups, lunches, homework and playtime all with a new born in hand.
I Recommend Ergobaby aura wrap or Ergobaby 360

#2 Bedside crib

This helps make those late-night feeds easier especially when you’re going to be sleep deprived most of the time. For my first born I had a crib and realized I kept waking up for feeds and in between to check if he was ok. Finally, we removed one railing and joined it to our bed.
I Recommend chicco next to me or This will also help keep your baby safe when your first born decides to climb into your bed or needs additional attention when sick.


#3 High-Quality Breast Pump

If for some reason you don’t have one already it’s worth the investment especially if your planning to breastfeed your little one and go back to work or you’re a stay at home mum.

I Recommend Madela freestyler it comes fully loaded with everything you’ll need for double/single pumping, whether you’re at home or on the go. Its adjustable suction strength, backlit digital display and rechargeable battery are a winner.

#4 Car seat

Ah yes now you’re going to have not one but two car seats. My first born had a Britax first class car seat that we used right up till he was 2yrs and had to invest in another car seat. I would recommend getting one that grows with your child, it is more economical and avoids the hassle of having to buy another one in a year.
I Recommend Chicco nextfit ix zip you can unzip and clean the cover and it grows with your baby.

#5 Swaddle wraps, nursing cover and burp cloths

Swaddle wraps makes swaddling so much easier especially when you have a wriggly one. First time around we used swaddle cloths and within seconds my little one had wrestled and freed his tiny self. The stretch light fabric and Velcro flaps makes it easier to use. I recommend investing in a swaddle that can be used as the baby grows, has an easy access to change diaper while the baby is sleeping and extra legs space.
I Recommend Ergo swaddle or Swaddle me

Author: Amanda Dias

The Bond That Breastfeeding Created

I am a nursing mother of two young children, my eldest daughter has just turned two and my youngest is two months old. My journey to this point has been full of joy, determination, sleepless nights and long warm milky cuddles.
When you fall pregnant for the first time, there are so many things that you think about. Boy or girl, breast or bottle, natural or c-section. It’s a lot to take in, it is overwhelming and as moms it is us and only us that can decide on what we feel is best for our children. I chose to breastfeed, no one forced me, and it is a decision I made after doing tons of research and asking other moms what worked for them.
When Leila, my eldest daughter was born, she latched onto my breast just a few minutes after birth. It was a special moment and I knew from the very beginning that I had made the right choice. Within the first two weeks I endured cracked, bleeding nipples, mastitis and horrible fevers. So many times I just wanted to give up and give her a bottle. I experienced low milk supply and had to take supplements to increase it so that I could maintain enough milk to keep her fed. Although, there are breast pumps available in the market to produce more milkI was determined to continue and as time went on, it got easier and the bond between me and my daughter was unbreakable.

I was told by so many people that I should not be nursing my toddler while I was pregnant with my second daughter, but I chose to listen to by body and continued under the supervision of my doctor. In fact, because I continued breastfeeding during my pregnancy I did not have any problems with feeding my newborn; it was a smooth and easy transition. It was my plan to stop breastfeeding Leila when Luna was born because I was scared that I would not produce enough, or the right consistency of milk for my newborn, but a very wise lactation consultant assured me that I would still be able to continue feeding both girls and that my body would provide for each of their needs individually.
I truly believe that breastfeeding is nature’s way of showing us how amazing a mom really is. It is truly wonderful to know that my body has the ability to create life, give life and nourish life. Wherever your journey with your children takes you, may it be magical.

How to make lunchboxes less of a chore…

However enthusiastic you are about food the daily lunchbox can break even the brightest of spirits. Life as a parent is already too busy to cook elaborate lunchbox fillings but that doesn’t mean they need to be dull and boring. I look to achieve just three things in my daughters’ lunchboxes: colour, freshness and simplicity. Once you focus on this ethos the daily lunchbox won’t feel like such a chore and you might even get a bit creative.
Firstly, what needs to go in your lunchbox?

1. start with carbs.

Carbohydrates such as bread or pasta should make up the back bone of the lunchbox. Don’t stress too much about this being boring or ‘samey’, children need fuel and energy to make sure they can concentrate and enjoy school or nursery. I like to add a little bit of fun by cutting sandwiches into shapes with cookie cutters as in this pink Monbento box or making cheesy quesadillas into little men (see my step-by-step in pictures below).


You’ll be amazed by how much your children will respond to something just cut, folded or arranged into a different shape and the Monbento range adds an extra element of discovery too with the different layers and boxes which my children love exploring.


2. add protein.

I aim to provide 2-3 different forms of protein per week. Make life easy though and boil eggs in advance at the weekend, use leftovers, use cured meats and fish (and remember protein can also come from pulses so hummus sprinkled with a few chickpeas also counts). I often serve hummus with the cheesy quesadilla men above and a ‘rainbow pot’ of fruit and veg to dip.)
My daughters also love leftover patties (meat, fish, veggie, whatever you have!) in ‘tacos’- just cut out a couple of small circles from a tortilla and fold them neatly into you box- top with the patties with avocado, tomato, sweetcorn + cheese (in the image below I’ve packed them with a popcorn snack and strawberry infused water in a Skiphop insulated bottle).


3. add 2-3 portions of fruit + veg.

Eating the rainbow is my number one mantra. No-one likes all fruits and vegetables but by looking to consume a variety of ‘colours’ from the rainbow you ensure that your family are getting as many vitamins and minerals into their bodies as possible.

The fruit and vegetable wheels below include my favourite lunchbox fillers and on a daily basis I make sure that my daughters’ lunchboxes capture at least 2-3 ‘colours’ and that they have around 2 handfuls of fruit and vegetables.


4. and a little something extra…..

Once you’ve covered the carbohydrate, protein, fruit and veg I generally add in an extra snack which provides additional nutrients and minerals and supports one of the main food groups already discussed. Our favourites include hummus, popcorn, dried fruit, fruit smoothies (or infused water) and homemade flapjacks or nut free energy balls.
With all the food groups covered all you need to do now is aid yourself with a few simple methods to help encourage your children to get involved.

Empower them

Getting your children involved in the daily lunchbox not only helps you out but also makes them feel empowered in choosing what you are adding. If you don’t want them to actually choose the specific foods that go in then just let them put it in the containers or choose what ‘colours’ they want that day. My daughters love getting involved with their fortnightly pasta salad- just cook some extra pasta and drizzle with olive oil. After dinner put a variety of toppings on the table and ask them to choose 2-3 to go with their pasta. Let them sprinkle it over or put it in pots so they can assemble at school. Our favourite toppings are: tomatoes, roasted peppers, peas, leftover roasted squash, sweetcorn, broccoli, cheddar cheese and mini mozzarella but anything goes!


DIY lunches


Children love to feel in control so try just putting the separate components of their lunch in the box and let them discover how they want to eat them together- this allows them to get involved and experiment with food. For children cautious about mixing food the Yumbox is great at separating the components but allowing them to see how they work together. The box below has all the components of a chicken + apricot couscous salad with watermelon + yoghurt drizzled with honey for dessert but by separating them out it seems less scary and enables them to identify each separate ingredient and explore it in their own time.

Be Adventurous

Children’s behaviour changes vastly in different environments so lunch boxes are a great way to expose them to new foods that they don’t normally try at home. Don’t go too far out of their comfort zone but present new foods in fun ways alongside foods they already enjoy.
Don’t stress

Children are largely sensory driven and respond to textures, colours and shapes in different ways at different times in their development so don’t stress or take it personally if they don’t eat something at first- its not the end of the world- try that food in a different way in a few weeks and you may be surprised by the result.

Please get in contact with any questions or even some fun lunchbox ideas!