Days Out – Sheffield Park & Gardens

As S worked from home for the day again, I decided to make use of our National Trust membership and visit anther local attraction. This time, I took myself and T off to Sheffield Park and Gardens near Uckfield.

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Sheffield park is a huge historic park back dating back past WW1. It’s had many uses over the years but it now rests as a horticultural work of art with waterfalls and several pieces of landscape design placed throughout the area.

The trees really run wild here; with elm tree’s and humungus conifers and pine trees towering over me. Water also has no limitation with gigantic lakes appearing round every corner housing ducks, geese, and the occasional gull. It really is a stunning place to visit.

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What I also found interesting was that every bench dotted around had a box attached, and in that box contained a small booklet detailing the plant life you could see around you at that particular location. This will definitely be something we’ll introduce T to, not to mention a bug catcher!

This has been, by far, my favourite location. I spent nearly a whole day here just admiring the natural beauty of the location, not to mention planning further trips when T is crawling and walking. There was a wonderful choice when it came to views to feed T in front of (I’m pretty sure the view made his rice cracker taste even yummier). The majority of the paths are flat (gain, buggy friendly) and there’s a nice variety of grassland that disappears into hidden trails if you’re dog walking. I would also certainly have a picnic here.

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K

 

Days Out – Nymans House & Garden Trail. 

Over the next few weeks S is going to be working from home as part of her work, which means I’m going to be taking myself off out for the day so that we’re not a distraction for her.

This, therefore, gives me the perfect opportunity to use our National Trust membership. We sadly haven’t used it for a while due to other plans and poor weather, so I’m hoping the next few weeks will change that!

This may sound odd, but I often don’t go out on my own with T without it being to a class or baby group, so this will be a nice change to just venture out on our own.

Nymans House & Gardens near Haywards Heath was where we took ourselves for our first mummy-son outing.

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Nymans was a country retreat for the Messel Family, however became a National Trust property in 1953. The house is a stunning property, albeit ruined, surrounded by gorgeous gardens and trails. Even in the winter it’s stunning and the house has a very gothic edge to it.

The gardens are really expansive, with lots of hidden corners and routes. I really enjoyed the woodland areas as they were covered in festive lighting, making use of the peculiar plant life already there.

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Although the location is quite small compared to other national trust sites, we managed to spend a few hours here slowly walking around and enjoying the scenery. The house was unfortunately shut for winter refurbishments, however there was an exhibition going on at the property detailing work by Gilbert and Sullivan, meaning parts of the surrounding woodland and gardens had been transformed to represent their work!

Because of the on and off drizzle, I decided to use the buggy – I’ve yet to find a National trust place that isn’t buggy friendly. What I also like about their sites is how I can always find a nice, quite place to feed T, without having to make myself go out of my way, which is handy as we can’t often feed in cafes as T gets distracted easily; meaning I often end up flashing my boob.

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I really enjoyed our first outing, and will no doubt bring S here one weekend.

K

Looking For Our Nursery. 

As mentioned in our last nursery post, T has to go into nursery. We can’t afford a nanny, nor is there an opportunity to have family look after T. This is our only option at the moment. It’s sad, but I’m slowly accepting it.

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Where we live there are TONS of nurseries within a 10 mile radius, which is actually a double edged sword. On one hand we have a vast choice of nurseries and can decide whether we choose one local to home or local to our places of work, choose one based on its learning style, or even choose one based on its food. On the other hand, and ultimately our deciding factor, because of the anount of nurseries we have, we also have our choice of costs! Nurseries are not competitive in the slightest, so having this many choices makes things difficult.

Nurseries argue that the reason why they’re not competitive is because each one is unique. Each one is so different based on the care they provide but at the end of the day they’re all doing one thing; looking after our children. A comparison between a chain nursery and a little independent nursery can often be no different… Until you get to the price. You would think that the chain, that often has more than one “branch”, would be cheaper as it’s making more money across the board, but no. You may then think that the little independent nursery would be cheaper to then compete with the well known nurseries, but no.

It really is a minefield.

So far, we’re at the viewing stage. I’ve already booked a handful of viewings and will be viewing them over the next few weeks. I’ve heard that once you get a “feeling” you’ll know you’ve found your nursery so I’m hoping I don’t have to view many before finding the right one.

The viewings, so far, are going well. There really are some wonderful places out there. With each viewing I’m armed with a list of questions, and thanks to our chums online we’ve been able to create quite the list:

Food selection.
– Packed lunches accepted?
Milk warming?
Nap times.
– Dealing with fussy babies.
First aid procedure.
Flexibility for shift workers?
Illness policy.
Extra hidden costs?
Exursions / outings?
Where will he be cared for?
– By whom?
Staff turnover.
Routines?

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only apprehensive parent when it comes to nursery, but it’s so hard not to worry that your baby won’t be ok.  Will the nursery be able to deal with T? Will he eat? Will he SLEEP?

I know a lot can change in a few months, he’ll be starting nursery when he’s a year after all, so it’s no good worrying about what’s going to happen later when even I don’t know what T is going to be like later. We’ll just have to wait and see.

What questions would you ask a nursery? Do you have any reassuring nuggets? How was your little one when they went to nursery.

K

Nursery

There’s no easy way to start talking about this, nor is there a snazzy or funny title suitable, so I guess I’ll just start. We’re getting ready to put T into nursery. There. I said it.

As a mini foreword, I know I’ve been incredibly lucky to have this amount of time off as maternity leave, however no amount of time, however long, will be long enough. I don’t want to do this. 

It’s not until April next year that he’ll be starting nursery, as that’s when I have to return to work, but it’s good practise to get viewings done and places booked early. Getting it done early will iron out any creases such as his/my schedule, as well as allowing for taster days where T can get introduced to the place slowly.
I feel incredibly sad at the thought of returning to work – in fact it makes me feel sick. It’s then not made any easier when I think that I’m not going to be leaving T with someone he knows when I go off to work. I have this horrible image of dropping him off and him sobbing his eyes out until I return.

I’m sure this won’t be the case and my general thought of it will become easier once T is moving and eating regularly, but my natural instinct at the moment is telling me he is too vulnerable to be left, but then I see others doing it all the time and with babies much MUCH younger so I tell myself I’m being a wuss. It’s so hard.

Every day I’m urging the universe for a lottery win so I don’t have to to back to work, so I can become a stay at home mum, but it’s not working. Wanting to be a SAHM isn’t the “easier” option – far from it. It’s a day AND night job in itself, which is why I’ve heard plenty of mums chomping at bits ready to return to work, but for me, it would be ideal.

In my eyes, if I was able to stay at home, I wouldn’t miss the milestones, the new foods, my baby growing up. I’d see it all. But, unfortunately, I don’t have a choice.

Over the next few weeks I’m planning on viewing several nurseries, however I hope to find “the one” sooner than that. I’m hoping to get that “feeling” that I’ve heard so much about early on so I can get T’s place booked and have one less stress about returning  to work on my shoulders.

Exactly how we go about looking for our perfect nursery is for another post!

Days Out – Scotney Castle

Whilst we were in Tunbridge Wells for T’s Photoshoot, we decided to make the most out of our National Trust membership and visit a local attraction.

Shamefully, we don’t know much about our country’s history apart from the well known periods of time; which is one of the reasons we took the membership out, not to mention being able to visit new beauty hotspots.
So when we saw that Scotney Castle was just down the road we decided to go there.

Scotney Castle is a stunning period property that only got taken over by the NT in the 1950’s. A small, albeit ruined, castle is also situated within the 700+ acres and is surrounded by a stunning lake and moat.

During our visit we walked around the house, the green spaces around the property, and then the castle. I decided to wear T although apart from the house, it was extremely buggy friendly if I hadn’t worn him.  Despite not visiting the property before, it was easy to see that it’s seen best within the autumnal colours – it’s a photographers paradise!

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Before leaving, we squeezed in a visit to the cafe (something we need to try and avoid if we’re going to be visiting NT sites weekly!) and the gift shop.

Off to a good start already with our National Trust membership, we hope to visit a NT site every weekend, if not every fortnight, to encourage us to go out and visit somewhere new.

Have you got a NT membership? Where have you been recently? Where do you recommend?

K

We were given no compensation for the purpose of this post – we just love our National Trust membership!

Weaning: 1 Month On. 

I’m not sure what I expected when we started weaning T a month ago. I had no idea whether he’d like the tastes or the textures, whether he’d like the same foods as me, even whether there’d be spitting out, or even choking! I guess I told myself to take each day as it came, and that I did.

I’ve very quickly learnt that one day can be so different from the previous, and that’s no different when it comes to weaning. Some days he ate everything on his tray, other days he played with the food (even if he’d had that exact meal a week or so ago!). There was no obvious explanation so it was pointless trying to work it out.

Here’s what else I’ve learnt:

There WILL be mess. Face, hands, highchair, the floor, the dog, ME! Pretty much after the third time T dropped/chucked his banana on the floor I went to my local hardware shop and bought a plastic table cover. At least this way im not getting food on the carpet, and he can have it back if it’s been dropped (until it becomes a game!).

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There WILL be wastage. Similar to above, what misses the mat completely, ends up in the compost bin (or my mouth if it’s not covered in fluff). This can get frustrating as you’re torn between doing smaller meals so that there’s no wastage, but once it’s gone, it’s gone and T has nothing to eat.

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You WILL end up finishing off the odd bowl or plate of something. Which isn’t so bad if he’s eating veggies. Banana pancakes? Toast?  Not so much.

Poop WILL change almost immediately. It took a few days for the poop to really change but when it came, it came, and it wasn’t long before I started missing the breastmilk poops. It is cool, however, to see what’s been going down. Literally.

Going down the baby-led weaning route means you don’t really have to prepare much as they’re eating what you’re eating. So if I’m having a cheese salad, he’ll have that as well. The only times I have to prepare him something different is when I’m not having a baby friendly meal like Ryvita, or if I don’t want to give him toast for breakfast for a second day in a row because I am. I still have a few stable bits in the freezer like banana pancakes, mashed potato, pin wheels, etc. but these are generally used for days when he needs a bit more to his meal or a bit of variety.

At the moment, he’s only having breakfast and lunch as I’m finding it hard to find the time to offer a dinner once he’s had another feed after lunch, a nap, and then another feed as it’s then time for a bath and then bed. I could try and fit it in around 5pm but he’s sometimes mentally getting ready to settle down by then. When he does get round to having a dinner/supper though, he’ll likely be having dinner on his own, which I don’t like the thought of, as S gets home so late and I’d rather eat with her, and I don’t want two meals, but then that factor isn’t as important right now.

I was/am quite nervous of choking, so I’m still reluctant to offer things like red meat but watching him at the moment devoir tougher things like red pepper is starting to gain me more confidence.

Of all the things to come out of taking a baby led weaning approach, eating out is one of them! It makes it so much easier! All we have to do is share our plate or get a side of veggies for him.

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It’s been a fun month, albeit stressful. It’s exciting watching him try all these new flavours – I’m looking forward to him trying his first Christmas dinner!

K