Learning to drive at 30

I can’t quite believe it but soon I will be taking a driving test for the very first time, at the grand old age of 30. I’m doing something that most people would’ve done in their late teens and early twenties. So, why now? Why has it taken me until 30-years-old to learn to drive?

For many years I lived in a big city, public transportation was adequate and so I never really had any desire to spend what little money I had on driving lessons. It would be fair to say that driving didn’t interest me at all.

Years went by and, at 25, I had my first driving lesson. My boyfriend (now my husband) had badgered me so much about how it would change my life to be able to drive that I eventually caved in and booked some lessons with a local driving instructor. Unfortunately, we were not a good match, I was a very nervous driver and my instructor seemed to be more accustomed to teaching cocky teenage boys. For example, whilst I drove down a bendy road, he asked me if I liked “hospital food” because that’s what I’d end up having if I continued driving the way I was. That was on my second lesson. He was probably joking, I know that now but I was terrified and I needed an instructor who was supportive, not one who only served to increase my nervousness. I promptly stopped my lessons and that was that.

Fast forward another 5 years, I’d turned 30 and had two young children. I now live on the outskirts of a city. Anybody who has had squeeze a pushchair onto a tiny, rammed-full-of-people bus will know what a pain in the backside it is to use public transport with kids in toe. It’s never fun (well, the toddler thinks bus rides are awesome but I definitely do not).

I finally felt like it was time to put my fears aside and try to learn to drive, again. I asked around on my local Facebook page for instructor recommendations and after the same name popped up a few times, I got in touch with Steve – who is now my instructor and has been since the end of last August. He is firm but fair and most of all, very encouraging.

In January, I took my theory test after spending many hours online, learning the highway code and taking mock hazard perception tests. I passed with flying colours and was relieved to have it done and dusted so I could then focus on the practical skills.

I still, even now, get incredibly nervous before a driving lesson. And it’s not a skill that has come easily to me but I am so excited to be in a position where I have a test booked (I won’t be disclosing when exactly, but it’s soon). But do you know what? Whether I pass or fail that test, I’m proud of myself for getting this far.

I’ve also bought my own car which I’m driving (accompanied by husband) on a daily basis – a visit to the garden centre at the weekend and pre-school runs during the week. Those little journeys are all adding to my experience and confidence. I’m determined to do this!

If you too are learning to drive and feel you’re now ready to take either your theory or practical tests then you can contact the DVLA for more information on how to arrange them.

Lots of luck and happy driving! :)

Jenna xx

This is a collaborative post.

Our garden plans for Spring/Summer 2018

This time last year, almost to the day, we had just moved into our house. Spring and Summer 2017 was all about getting settled in our new home, doing the the essential decorating (there was some feature wallpaper that we could NOT live with) and we also had a new kitchen fitted. It was a busy and expensive time for us.

Fortunately, we now had a sizable back garden which the girls could enjoy when we had good weather. It’s a garden that’s mostly laid to lawn and relatively low maintenance (certainly compared to our previous back garden which required far more gardening skills than I possess). It was great to be able to fill up the paddling pool and watch the girls play happily. We are all so much happier when we’re outside.

The girls enjoying being out in our garden last year.

Whilst we’ve been able to enjoy our garden without having to really do much to it (except mow the lawn every other ruddy day – or so it seems), this year I want to focus on making it ours. There’s a few areas of the garden that definitely could do with a bit of TLC.

I thought I’d share some before photos and, hopefully, in a month or so from now I can share an update of what we’ve managed to do to get our garden looking it’s best.

Here’s the list of things we want to do:

Deck ‘The Ugly Corner’ – the previous owners of our house had a wooden playhouse in the back left-hand corner of the garden, they wanted to sell it to us but we didn’t think it was worth what they were asking for it so we declined. Unfortunately, the area where the playhouse stood is a bit of a mess and is by far my least favourite thing about our garden as it currently stands. We’re planning to have a small area of decking built there before the summer, so we can enjoy it as place to sit. I’m not very keen on the brick wall either and would like to paint it in order to brighten that corner of the garden up a little.

Buy a parasol – our garden is south facing which is LUSH! But there really is no escape from the sun which isn’t ideal when the littles are playing out in the paddling pool. We’d really like to invest in a large parasol in order to give the girls some shade when they’re playing outside.

Repaint the planter – we inherited this planter from the previous home owners (they didn’t try to make us buy it separately!) But it’s looking a little tired and the paint is flaking off. I’m not sure if it can be saved but I’ll give it a good go. I’m sure it’s nothing a lick of paint can’t fix!

Add some colour – we have a few hanging baskets which are all looking a little lacklustre and could do with some new flowers. I want to add lots of bright and pretty flowers around the rest of the garden too. Although, with two young children and a dog (who will eat anything) I need to be careful as to which plants I choose. If you have any child/pet safe plant suggestions, throw them my way!

Add garden lights – I am obsessed with fairy lights. My husband jokes that it takes him half an hour to go to bed at night because he has to turn off all of the fairy lights around the house. Obviously I’m gonna want to add some nice solar lights in the garden. At least hubby won’t have to turn these ones off! ;)

Grow our own strawberries – we planted some strawberry plants in our Vegtrug last year but as it was their first season, we didn’t get a lot of fruit from them. I tried to take care of them throughout the year and hopefully I’ll be rewarded with lots of yummy homegrown strawbs this summer.

I think that’ll be enough to keep us busy for now. I’ll be keeping a keen eye on Groupon’s deals as they regularly have some fab offers on garden items including; parasols, outdoor lights, plants and garden toys.

Do you have any garden plans for 2018?

Jenna xxx

This is a collaborative post.

Grubby feet

I’ve decided I need to write more so that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll write every day (if I want to) for 5 minutes or 20 minutes, or for however long I can squeeze it into my day. I won’t edit myself or overthink it, this isn’t about creating ‘quality blog content’ (sorry), it’s just about me recording my days and my thoughts. Ramblings, basically. If people happen to like reading it, cool. If not? Cool.

Today has been glorious as I’ve mostly spent it outside. After several days of unrelenting rain, we’ve finally been blessed with a sunny Spring day. The air is cool and fresh but there’s still a noticeable warmth on my skin. It feels like it’s been a long time coming. I spent a good chunk of the morning tidying up the front garden. I’ve no clue what I’m doing in terms of ‘proper gardening’. But I do know that I was chopping things down with gusto! Oh and intermittently running after E who kept making her escape out of the garden and onto the footpath outside our house, she loves being chased. It’s the early afternoon and my step count is currently on 14,000+ steps. That’s how much she loves being chased.

A neighbour stopped by to chat with me, I often see him when he’s out walking his dog. He’s a friendly bloke but does make me a tad uncomfortable. Ever so often he’ll grab and hold onto my hands. As if we were a couple of teenagers on our first date. I don’t know how to tell him to fuck off, without, you know, telling him to fuck off.

After picking up J from pre-school, the three of us played out in the back garden. I took off the girls’ shoes and socks, rolled up their trousers and let them play barefooted on the lawn. At the risk of sounding like a prize hippy, I think it’s important for kids to be able to get grubby and feel the grass between their toes. Good weather makes parenting so much easier. E was happy picking up stones and carrying them from one end of the garden to the other whilst J charged around pretending to be a police officer.

I’m currently sat on the sofa with the girls either side of me. We’re eating hot cross buns. I’m not normally a fan of them (the buns that is, not the girls) but these aren’t just any hot cross buns. These are Marks & Spencer’s luxury mini hot cross buns! ;) #notanad

Talking of #ads. I’ve deleted Instagram off of my phone. It wasn’t making me particularly unhappy, I love Instagram but that was the problem. I was addicted to it. I felt like I was becoming more invested in what other people were doing instead of focusing on my own life. I also want to avoid being ‘sold’ things by people whose lifestyles I supposedly ‘should’ be aspiring to. I’ve realised I don’t need anything that anybody’s selling, I’ve got everything I could ever need already. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against people trying to earn a crust via social media, I’ve been paid for Instagram brand collaborations myself, but I’m done being a passenger on the advertising wagon.

Whilst I’m on the subject, I must mention this video from Lucy from Lulastic blog too. She talks about ways to live more simply and I’ve been thinking about it all day. She also talks a bit about avoiding advertising which has just confirmed to me that I’ve made the right decision re: Instagram.

I’ve eaten a ridiculous amount of chocolate today. I have no self control when it comes to sweet stuff. Like, at all. I’m predicting I’ll be diabetic by 6pm this evening. There’s an Easter egg in the kitchen calling out to me. Daring me to eat it.

Must. Resist.

Jenna xx

Introducing the latest Smyths Baby Catalogue…

When I think of Smyths, I think of children’s toys. That’s what they do, right? They sell toys.

But that’s not all. I recently found out that Smyths have their very own baby catalogue which has 84 pages filled with the top baby products and brands. Everything you’d need for a new baby, including car seats, bouncers, pushchairs and highchairs. You name it, they’ve got it.

I’ve been browsing the Smyths baby catalogue myself and thought I’d share some of my favourite picks:

ClevaMama ClevaCushion 10-in-1 Nursing Pillow – Grey

A good nursing pillow was so useful to me, particularly in the early days of breastfeeding. Mine wasn’t nearly as clever as the ‘Clevacushion’ though. This pillow can not only be used to support baby whilst nursing but it also has an insert designed to transform the nursing pillow into the perfect baby nest. The ClevaCushion’s ClevaFoam technology has been scientifically proven to reduce the pressure on the back of baby’s head by 50% and increase support by an incredible 80%. Genius! It’s no wonder this product has won several awards.

Babylo Milan Glider Chair and Footstool – White/Grey

Can we just take a moment to appreciate the fact that the above glider chair and footstool is just £179.99?! I mean, look at it! It’s gorgeous. I’m trying not to think about how many hours I’ve sat on the floor or on my husband’s wobbly office chair whilst feeding E. Is it too late to buy it now?!

Graco Teatime Bow Time Bear Highchair

If you’re in the market for a highchair that’s easy to clean, looks nice and has a slim fold then this one looks like it ticks all of the boxes. We have the Ikea highchair and as much as it was a bargain, I do wish I could fold it up when we’re not using it as it takes up so. much. space.

This design is also much cuter…

 

So, whether you have a baby on the way and need to buy the essentials or you know somebody who is expecting and want to find them the perfect gift, pick up your free copy of the Smyths baby catalogue from your local Smyths store.

What was/is your most essential baby product?

Jenna  xx

5 things that helped my toddler to sleep better

It was only a month ago that I wrote a blog post about how I was considering hiring a sleep trainer for E. I was at my wit’s end. She was waking up almost hourly, breastfeeding like a newborn and refusing to go back to sleep. Instead, she would throw herself around our bed, like a fish out of water, screaming her head off. Quite frankly, I’m surprised our neighbours haven’t yet called the police because anybody would think a murder was being committed in our house.

But I am pleased to report that things have changed dramatically over the last few weeks and we’re all getting considerably more sleep. I feel happier and brighter and able to parent better. And as for E, she is like a different child. She’s well rested and happier too.

So what changed?

1. We stopped co-sleeping.

E slept in our bed and had done pretty much since birth. She woke for feeds throughout the night and I just found it easier to have her in our bed for that reason. But even the little sleep I did get was rubbish because I had so little space, usually finding myself squeezed in-between a bed-hogging toddler and my 6ft something husband. (We had a bed guard on the side of the bed that E slept so she didn’t fall out.)

Putting E in her own room was the only thing we hadn’t tried and after several nights of having barely any sleep, I lost my sh*t and dragged E’s (at the time, unused) cot into the office (she’ll share a room with J eventually). That night, I stayed next to her cot until she fell asleep… and the next night and the night after that. There were tears from E (I never left her to cry, that’s not my style) and I was sad too, I missed her snuggles but after the third night, she got it. I can now feed her, put her down in her cot and she will wave at me and blow me a kiss as I leave the room. I genuinely can’t believe it.

2. We cut down nighttime breastfeeds.

Once E was in a separate room, she straight away began waking less often for night feeds. I guess not sleeping in a bed with my breasts inches from her face meant it was rather less convenient for her to wake up and have a sup on mama’s milk, so she stopped bothering (as much). I now feed E just before bed and again at around 10.30 but other than that one feed in the night, she sleeps through! I am planning to wean E completely later this month but that’s a blog post for another time. Watch this space!

3. We incorporated a nightlight into our bedtime routine.

On hearing all about my sleep woes, the folks at Lumie very kindly offered to send me a Bedbug Light Sleep Aid. “It won’t be the entire solution, of course – but it might help?” I had nothing to lose so decided we’d give it a go.

The Bedbug (which is endorsed by gentle-parenting expert Sarah Ockwell-Smith) offers fully adjustable bedside lighting to change, feed and settle your child ready for bed. I use the gradual sunset mode when putting E to bed, it takes about 15 minutes for the room to go from being brightly lit to dark. This is enough time for me to feed E and place her in her cot and exit the room whilst she finishes settling herself to sleep. If I need to pop in at any point during the night to feed or comfort her, I can turn on Bedbug’s orange nightime glow. This gives me enough light to see what I’m doing but doesn’t trigger wakefulness.

I really do believe it’s been instrumental in setting up a good bedtime routine with E and now we wouldn’t be without our Bedbug. In fact, I think I’m going to have to get one for J as she sleeps with her main light on because she’s scared of the dark!

4. We re-introduced white noise.

I bought Ewan the Dream Sheep when I was pregnant with E. We never bothered with any kind of white noise comforters when J was a baby but I’d heard good things about Ewan and so he ended up being one of only a handful ‘second baby purchases’ (everything else we’d kept from J). We used Ewan a fair bit when E was a newborn and he was relatively effective, but his batteries ran out and he ended up being forgotten about, hidden in a basket full of other soft toys.

But after moving E into the new room, I’d get her settled and asleep in her cot each night and as I’d go to walk out of the door, the floorboards would squeak and I’d be rumbled! I bought some new batteries for Ewan and started using him alongside the nightlight when settling E in her cot, the white noise seemed to help send her off to sleep quicker and if nothing else, it certainly helped to mask the noise of my steps across the creaky floorboards!

5. We started using Gro sleeping bags.

Gro bags aren’t new to us, we used them when J was a baby and they were fantastic. But because E shared our bed, I was reluctant to put her in any more layers other than her PJs and a cellular blanket, in case she overheated. Being the wriggly worm that she is, she’d often end up kicking her blanket off in the night and then waking up cold. As soon as we put her in the cot, we dug out the old Gro sleep bags and now we know she’s snuggly and warm all night long. One less reason for her to wake up at night! ;)

I don’t think that any one of these things would’ve made such a big difference on it’s own but the combination of all 5 has certainly helped us to get E into a better nighttime routine. We still haven’t mastered daytime naps (but you can’t have it all, right?), but for now, I am very pleased to be getting a lot more sleep. Fingers crossed, it continues…

Our bedtime faves*: 

Jenna xx

Related posts that you may also like to read:

Is it time to bring in a sleep trainer?
Bedtime Routines: The first baby vs. the second baby
10 things nobody told me about breastfeeding
A co-sleeping dilemma

 

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