Guest post – Encouraging Your Kids to Play Outdoors this Autumn

28 Sep

If your children are anything like my toddler then you’ll have a hard time keeping them indoors, but when the weather turns cooler and wetter the enthusiasm levels  can wain in even the hardiest of outdoor explorers. Dawn Ashlie has put together some great tips on ways to encourage children to fall in love with nature again, whatever the season…


Playing outside gives a wide range of benefits for your child, from physical to mental to even broadening their social skills. Mommies Magazine listed some of the positive effects from playing outside such as improving the immune system, enhancing imagination and getting along better with friends.

But how would you reap these results when your child doesn’t want to go outside in the first place? To help you get your child up on his/her feet and head outdoors, here are some tips you can put into practice.

A backyard can be a good spot to set up an outdoor play area for your child. Encourage him/her to play outside by building things like tree houses or “secret bases”. These can also be used as great alternatives for tents when camping.

For a more cost-friendly approach, how about hiding small treats in jars and hiding or burying them in your garden or nearby outdoor areas. Then draw a treasure map and let your child embark on a treasure hunt.

You can also play with your child by challenging him/her to an outdoor “Bring Me” game. Ask for items such as flowers, specifically coloured pebbles, differently shaped leaves, etc.

Give your child tools, such as toy shovels and magnifying glasses. A child’s natural curiosity and desire for outdoor exploration can be triggered when he/she has these items to play with.


According to Child Alert UK, toddlers love to hide and surprise adults. Finding areas with good hiding spaces will allow them to fully act on this innate quality.

Parenting resource site PBS Parents suggests practicing “hummingbird parenting” which is to allow your child to have his/her own autonomy to play, intervening only when necessary. Being strict all the time, and always monitoring your child like a hawk can discourage them from venturing outside.

Lastly, take advantage of the natural resources around you. If you’re living near a lake or river, you can take your child fishing or kayaking. When you’re near highlands, on the other hand, hiking or trail biking are just two great activities for you and your child.

Just ensure to practice proper safety. For instance, when playing in dirt or soil, make sure that the ground hasn’t been treated with toxic substances like pesticides.

Let your child wear durable clothing as well. Good fabrics include Turkish cotton and wool. Unisex children’s clothing line Tootsa claim that strong natural fibres such as the aforementioned cotton and wool used on their ranges are built to withstand a child’s active lifestyle. Thus, seeking out clothing that fits their endeavours and are designed to last is of paramount importance.

Additionally, apparel with these kinds of durable fabrics are more practical in the long run, considering they last for years. They can even be handed down when your child has outgrown them. And contrary to popular belief, they can be machine washed as well. You just have to know the proper ways, through guides such as the one shared by Clean Organised Family Home.

As a final reminder, always check the surroundings for sharp or other potentially harmful objects. When doing activities like camping, fishing or hiking, don’t forget to arm yourself with proper protection such as some bug spray.

Getting your child to play outside will have many long lasting benefits, especially to their health. However, you must be prepared to encourage them as much as possible and participate in pursuits to keep them active, energetic and playful for them to reap greater benefits.

Have fun!

Dawn Ashlie

Potty training, ugh, kill me now

26 Sep

Firstly, I must acknowledge my absence from the blogging world recently. Who knew that keeping two children alive would be so blooming time consuming?! As my ability to shower/and or function seems to be slowly returning, I’m hoping this also means that my ability to blog successfully will also be returning. But it is only Monday and there’s nothing like a week of parenting to knock the enthusiasm right out of you. So, I guess what I’m saying is, hang on in there, pretty please, with a cherry on top,  I’ll be back up to full speed very soon.

In the mean time…

Let’s talk about my current cause of mid-week drinking…f-ing, sodding, potty training.

Potty training life.png

I mean, when it works you feel like you could achieve anything in life, but when it doesn’t, I honestly consider selling my children.

It started off so well, I was even a little smug at how well Poppy took to it. No accidents at all, not one! My child is a genius, I thought, huzzah! Then, after about a week of blissful smugness, my false sense of security crumbled. Every single flipping time I asked she would say “NO! Not today Mummy” then wee all over the floor a matter of minutes later. FFS!

Okay, don’t lose your sh*t, we just need to switch things up a bit, we can do this.

So I introduced incentives…a star chart! Everyone loves stars. Look at all those glistening beautiful stars. Pat on the back Mummy, this is what great parenting looks like. Immediate success and even going to the loo on the potty without my prompting. Thank goodness, totally nailed it this time. NOT. One week of perfection then I became the one who was more excited about sparkly stars and so back to wonderful golden pools of surprise and damp smelly clothing we went.

Since then we have tried all manner of bribery, some working for a short while and others for longer – stickers, star charts, dried fruit, Haribo (don’t judge, I was desperate!), mini smarties and chocolate. The potty has become my bosom buddy and has accompanied us on all kinds of trips – boats, fields, sides of the road, play dates, soft play, national trust houses etc etc. We’ve had some successes and some failures. And my oh my we’ve hit rock bottom during the off days – wee in a whole tub of toys, wee in Felix’s carry cot, poo in the middle of the play area in amongst a load of toys, poo on the snug floor, wee on the snug floor, wee on the snug rug, wee and poo on the kitchen floor during a fun episode of ‘lets empty the contents of Mummy’s purse on to the floor and then clean everything with wee’, seriously, I kid you not. A personal low point for me was wee in the car seat. Do you know how many wee-capturing compartments are hidden within a car seat? Millions!!!! It took sooo long to get it all clean and sort of smelling fresh again.

But, I would tentatively say that the balance is swinging in favour of the better days and would put this down to a few things –

  • Consistency, patience and perseverance on my part and trying to never get complaisant (read lazy) as that is always when accidents have happened.
  • Not getting angry. After long wee-soaked days I have let my temper get the better of me so can tell you first hand, this just does not work. Instead what has had the most impact is reminding her of the reward that she’s missed out on by not doing her wee/poo in the loo or on the potty. I’ve even put the reward in the bin in front of her which might sound particularly cruel but when your child is so incentive driven it really works.
  • The right kit. Anything that reduces the stress factor when accidents happens is worth every penny.
  • Praising for successes and glossing over and moving on from the failures.


The survival kit

Carseat Protector, a literal sanity saver – Long journeys and potty training just do not mix well. Bambella make absorbent seat liners in a fab range of designs to make life so much easier. Since having ours we have had one accident and didn’t have any wee transference to the actual seat. Once washed the liner dried super fast too. Love that it can be used in the pushchair too.

The bribery essential – The one thing that has remained a firm favourite for Poppy is Urban Fruit Strawberry! They’re just baked fruit so I don’t feel quite so guilty about offering them up as bribery. We get ours from Sainsbury’s.


Easy to wash potty – We went for an Ikea one with a lift out section for easy cleaning.


Loo seat and step – I bought a super cheap un-fitted seat to start with but every time Poppy tried to get on to the loo by herself the seat would shift and she’d end up in a pickle. After that we tried the Pourty Flexi-Fit Toilet Trainer seat which has been brilliant and has meant that Poppy now feels confident enough to get up on to the loo without me being around which means less accidents! Hurrah!


Waterproof bedding – We now have a dry napper (if that’s even a phrase?) but to get to that point we went through a hell of a lot of sheets, mainly as Poppy used weeing in the bed as an attention seeking thing. To combat this I layered up four pairs of waterproof sheet then normal sheet so that each time she had an accident I could remove the sheets with as little hassle and faff as possible and remove the attention from her. To my surprise it actually worked!

Last but not least…

A little luxury for you – My husband bought me some ridiculously expensive hand soap and each time I have to clear up one of Poppy’s accidents I use the soap to clean my hands. Might sound silly but that little treat makes me feel so much better about life after feeling like my child’s personal toilet attendant.

Jo Malone Handwash.png

Our potty training journey is far from over. As I’ve been writing this post Poppy has done a wee on the potty but poo on the floor! I mean seriously.

How are your potty training journeys going? Any advice? Would love to know what you found useful.



Prince George style on the high street

27 Aug
Totally loving the influence that a certain little Prince’s sartorial choices are having on the high street recently. One shop nailing the classic style at not-too-ridiculous prices at the moment is good old M&S, better still, some of my faves are in the sale!
We were so lucky to be given some of these when Felix was born, they wash so well and didn’t need ironing (like I’d actually iron anything anyway), I was soooooo gutted when my lump of a baby grew out of them.
M&S 3 Piece set

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What the heck is Dermaroller?

16 Aug

Image Source:

An instrument of medieval torture or miracle cure? Continue reading

Hospital bag – what I packed v what I used

22 Jul

I was completely and totally convinced that I was going to go into early labour and consequently ordered my lovely personalised weekender bag (shown below) from Emily and Heath and had everything packed and ready to go ridiculously early, as in, from 26 weeks. It was also one job off the list that I knew would be pretty impossible to achieve closer to arrival date due to a rather time consuming toddler.

Hospital bag

Having learnt from round one with Poppy where I didn’t pack things like makeup or nearly enough PJs or baby grows which resulted in mad dashes to the shops by visitors, I would say that with Felix I had absolutely everything I needed making my experience far more pleasant.

Bag for Mummy – Everything I used is marked in blue

What to pack in Hospital bag 2

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Baby bag, the verdict

8 Jul

A little while ago I posted about my best baby bag find as I wanted to upgrade my totally battered and well loved Baby Beau Ellie bag.

After much deliberation and a visit to the super lovely Eat Sleep Love boutique in London to have a good old snoop at my short list of bags, I decided on the Jem + Bea Beatrice bag, currently available at, in taupe. I wanted something big enough to fit all the kit required for both toddler (still in nappies) and baby but also be stylish and feel like something that I would usually pick for myself and would be able to use post-baby. It also needed to go with everything and not be season dependant.



Proving to be the perfect holiday bag.

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Well that was scary!

14 Jun IMG_4227

I was hoping that my first post after my little hiatus would be to introduce you to our beautiful baby boy Felix. I’ll still be writing that post very soon, but not today. Today I want to share a reminder to never take these little lives for granted.

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Baby Boutique Heaven

21 Mar Eat Sleep Love Boutique19

My first experience of baby shopping when I was expecting Poppy was, I’m sure, very similar to other expectant parent’s out there. A stressful Saturday afternoon spent hanging around John Lewis in a state of utter confusion. It’s not like we even went in blind, I’d researched for what felt like months but when faced with walls of different products, a husband with an attention span of a hungry toddler and ridiculous crowds we only managed to come away with a changing matt. Don’t judge, it was a stressful afternoon!!

This time around I had heard whispers of an entirely different experience that might actually be enjoyable?! What? Lies, all lies!

Well, after having the pleasure of spending some time with the delightful and uber inspirational Laura Slater on a recent flying visit to London, I can tell you this heaven does exist and it’s called Eat Sleep Love Boutique. Continue reading

Labour freak out

22 Feb

Seriously, why hasn’t nature perfected a more efficient baby extraction method? Maybe a zip? Or as a friend suggested, grow the baby in a pod in a greenhouse. Slightly Matrix-esque but a hell of a lot more efficient!

When I was expecting baby number one I had a wonderful ‘what will be will be’ attitude towards the birth, as long as baby was healthy then I was very happy to go with the flow. Then came a 36hr labour with back to back baby ending in full extraction team armed with forceps and extensive remodelling of the down below area, followed by three weeks of infections and not being able to sit down for six weeks. Joy of joy.


Why are their heads so big and our bodies so small???????????????? It just DOESN’T MAKE SENSE!!!!!!!

Honestly I think I could handle the labour again even if this little one is back to back too, I’d just ask for an epidural literally the moment I arrive instead of waiting over 30hrs (seriously, what was I thinking?!).

What scares the be-jesus out of me is the thought of the recovery + toddler. Dealing with the sheer immobility that I was faced with post birth when also faced with carrying/changing/manhandling a very wriggly two year old who is well and truly in the swing of terrible twos and who often requires removal from the path of oncoming traffic whilst mid-tantrum.

Then again, loads of people manage and then go on to have more children so there must be a way of coping or do they all just confine the toddler to a (lockable?) room with Peppa Pig on repeat and a never ending supply of snacks and drinks? I’m seriously considering this. Something else that I’ve seriously been considering is asking for an elective c-section. I know I know, it’s major surgery but at least it’s on your tummy and not your nether regions. This is the level of freak-out that I’ve reached, I’ll literally consider anything.

Anyone have a similar first birth and have a totally dreamy second birth? Pleeeeeeeease say this is the case. It’ll just fly out with no adverse effects to the surrounding area right?😉




My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
Best of Worst

Most stylish baby changing bags on the market

9 Feb Jem+Bea Beatrice Taupe

I have carried my faithful and wonderful Baby Beau Ellie changing bag with me for pretty much every day of the last two years. This is a love affair that could conceivably continue were it not for my shift in needs that I see happening on the horizon and for the fact that I bought my Ellie second hand from eBay and after two years of further abuse, it really has seen better days.

So onwards and upward!

What I loved about the Baby Beau Ellie was the copious amount of well thought out pockets so any future baby changing bag will have to match this and more as not only will it have to fulfil the needs of a newborn (nappies galore+several outfit changes+muslins etc) it will also have to house the needs of a toddler (nappies+snacks+books/toys/games+sunglasses etc). Sigh. Think I might just give up the search now and resign myself to carrying around my old travelling rucksack… Continue reading