Freebie alert! A pack of 260 WaterWipes for free :)

From my previous blog you all know I love a good freebie. Here is the latest one I discovered: if you’re an Amazon Prime member and have/create a baby wishlist, you can receive a free value pack of WaterWipes (260 wipes). All you have to do is spend £10 on baby items from your wishlist.

This is how it works: save items to your wishlist and shop as normal. Add a value pack of WaterWipes (4×60 wipes sold by Amazon) to your basket (make sure you have the right item) and the price will automatically be deducted at checkout.

If you’re not an Amazon Prime member you can get a free trial as long as you cancel within 30 days. Btw the WaterWipes promotion lasts till the end of June.

Now let’s do some maths: to qualify for the freebie I bought a pair MAM bottles and spare teats that I needed anyway. In Boots they retail for £13.50 and £5.09. On Amazon they were £7.50 and £4. Plus £10 for Waterwipes (they are currently £9 on Amazon but I’m comparing to Boots prices). So overall I spent £11.50 on items that would cost me £28.59 if bought on the high street. That’s £17.09 saved! Bargain!

Any questions please ask, and let me know about your favourite bargains!

(Are you) a good mum

To tell you that as a mother you are under pressure would be old news. You ought to raise a decent human being, beat other mums (because whether you admit it or not, it is a competition) and most importantly you have to perform and conform to your own expectations and standards that are (at least initially) higher than those imposed on you by the society. As a first time mum, you had this vision of being simply perfect, not compromising and doing a stellar job. Well, you are doing a stellar job (unless you shove your baby into a cupboard while you peacefully drink a bottle of Jack Daniels). Although, stellar in a slightly different way…

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So I’m not going to write about the pressure you are under. I’m going to write about you being a good mum. Because you are a good mum even if you:

  • Let your newborn boy’s wee somehow get into his eyes mere hours after he enters this world.
  • Accidentaly drop your phone on your baby’s face while trying to get the best angle for an adorable photo.
  • Just to stay awake during night feeds you watch The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and/or Jeremy Kyle’s Show, despite knowing that neither is suitable for his innocent eyes.
  • Wish your baby was as well behaved as your friend’s one, although you suspect that your friend is actually faking it and her newborn too is a nightmare.
  • Let your child scream like hell while you peacefully finish your toilet business.
  • Think of ways to manipulate your friends and family members into (seemingly) voluntarily offering to help with your baby and/or housework.
  • Seriously consider taping a dummy to your baby’s face so it doesn’t fall out every twenty seconds.
  • Make your cup of tea and open a pack of biscuits before you feed your screaming baby.
  • Call your doctor at 2 am describing the contents of your baby’s nappy in a (gross) detail.
  • Wonder if you can auction your child on eBay and if he could earn you enough cash for an early retirement.
  • Get curry stains on your baby’s white outfit when you’re trying to scoff a meal while breastfeeding.
  • Use your baby’s cuteness to your benefit, whether it is a free whipped cream on your latte or a better place in a queue.
  • Have a gulp of wine straight from the bottle each time you think that you can’t cope any more.
  • Ignore everyone’s advice and do whatever feels right. After all it was you who created this human being so you have every right to ignore all the smart books and people’s advice, and do it your way.

Finally, I need to point out that I have never done any of those things. Because I am not just a good mum. I am a perfect one! My only flaw is that sometimes I lie. Honestly! 🙂

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My little guide to baby freebies

Some things in life are worth paying for. But definitely not those things one can get for free! During pregnancy and motherhood numerous companies are fighting for you to become their customer. How? By literally forcefeeding you samples and coupons. All you have to do is employ a tiny bit of initiative because I’ve done the research for you. Here is the list of my favourite free stuff:

  • Emma’s Diary

Sign up here and you can claim four gift packs with various baby goodies, including a full pack of nappies. No purchase necessary.

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  • Bounty Packs

You should receive your first Bounty Pack – Pregnancy Information Folder at your first midwife appointment. If you didn’t, ask for it. Just like Emma’s Diary bags, Bounty Packs are filled with free samples and money off coupons, they also contain information booklets about what to buy and how to care for your new baby. Besides already mentioned Pregnancy Information Folder and a Newborn Pack that you’ll get in hospital after you’ve had your baby, there are two more sample bags that you can claim via the Bounty app. You can register and find more info here.

  • Pampers Club

Download the Pampers Club app and start uploading receipts from your Pampers purchases which will gain you points that you can redeem when buying more nappy supplies. Be smart! Whatever you do, do not ever pay a full price for a pack of nappies because that’s exactly what the retailer wants you to do. I personally wait for nappies to be on special and then I apply my coupons making my nappies super cheap, if not free. Tesco seems to have Pampers nappies at half price on a regular basis (so far every other month) so stock up then.

  • Boots Parenting Club

You can link your Boots loyalty card to their parenting club. You’ll benefit from 10 points for every pound spent on baby items. On top of that you’ll receive an extra stash of coupons and a freebie each quarter – currently you have a choice between a MAM bottle and a soother, or a pack of breast pads. I noticed that when you use the Boots app, it can be combined with equivalent paper coupons – this might be a glitch but I’m not going to complain about it. For example, I had a Pampers baby wipes 50p off coupon that came both in paper and electronic version. I waited for the wipes to be on special – for £1. I used my paper coupon, and the app automatically applied the e-coupon which gave me a free pack of wipes that normally sells for £1.50.

  • Amazon Prime

There are freebies and promotions running constantly for Amazon Prime members who create a baby wish list and purchase items from it. I find Amazon Prime excellent value for money. The membership costs £79 per year and the biggest perk is free delivery, including one day delivery. So if you’re planning to make two or more Amazon purchases every month, it’s a good deal. Otherwise, you can wait for a promotion that appeals to you and then get a trial of Amazon Prime that is free as long as you cancel within a month. The recent freebies included a MAM bottle, a Tommee Tippee nappy bin and my favourite one – Amazon baby box (see below). I’m sure there will be more coming in the future.

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  • Cow and Gate

Register here to receive a free cow toy, pregnancy diary and money off coupons.

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  • Ella’s Kitchen

Become Ella’s Kitchen friend to get a free weaning pack and coupons to try their products for free.

Those are the best clubs and offers I have found. There are more, including for example Tesco Baby Club, but they didn’t take my breath away. You can also join several freebie websites like https://www.mumandbabyonline.co.uk/ but when signing up for those you have to be prepared to receive a serious amount of junk mail in your mailbox. A solution is to create a separate email address for your freebies and loyalty clubs so they don’t mix with your important emails.

Also, whenever you are making a major purchase in a shop, ask for a discount. The store manager has the authority to award you a discount for pretty much no reason. When I was buying my pram in Mothercare I got £10 off and a booklet with vouchers. I mean £10 isn’t a lot, but it gets you a decent bottle of wine and a Starbucks frappucino so why not? My trick is to ask whether they do a single mum discount. Yes, I’m milking it. So send your partner away or make him look like your gay best friend and pretend to be a poor single mummy. Cheeky but effective…

Hopefully I just made your life little easier and cheaper. Now please tell me about your favourite freebies!

How my job prepared me for motherhood

When my munchkin was about two weeks old, one of my friends came to visit. We usually hang out in a local cafe, but she in an attempt to do me a favor suggested coming to my place. I had a new baby after all so I surely didn’t feel like going out, right? Wrong! Me and little Derry were out and about since the day we got home from the hospital.

When this friend came over she was surprised, if not shocked, that my flat was actually clean, I had make-up on, my hair wasn’t greasy and I looked fresh (according to her). On top of that there was freshly brewed coffee and biscuits ready on the table.

It was brought to my attention that apparently it’s not normal to be this collected and organised when caring for a new baby, especially not when it’s one’s first child and the said person has never changed a single nappy before. It got me thinking – how comes that I seem to have it all together? And what abilities do I possess that prevented me from loosing my shit?

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It occurred to me that skills necessary to run a respectable household without any help while handling a newborn who requires constant attention, are not that far from skills required to successfully carry out my job. I spent the past two years working as a customer service manager for a major airline. When I say “customer service manager” I mean a crew herder, problem fixer, pilot server and a customer punchbag. My standard workday was filled with dramatic and intense moments, pressure from multiple directions and frequent time constraints. Just to give you an example, when boarding a flight I would find myself talking on the aircraft interphone while the dispatcher was ringing my work mobile with an urgent message, a customer was complaining to me in French, I was trying to figure out how to have a minor technical issue in the cabin fixed without delaying the plane, while pilots were impatiently waiting for their cups of tea served with the correct amount of sugar and a precise measure of milk. All at the same moment.

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No stress 🙂

In this job I’ve truly learnt to multitask, set priorities, eliminate tasks that are not immediately critical, and not give in to stress and pressure. Oddly enough, a high-pressure working environment made me relaxed and chilled rather than stressed. (Wine (obviously not drank on duty) was/is a contributing factor but more about that in another blog post.) What is more, frequent traveling and overnight flights meant jetlag and a lack of sleep. To be able to cope I’ve learnt how to sleep/nap anywhere and whenever I have a chance – which is a crucial ability of a “successful” single mum.

So how do these skills come handy in motherhood? Well, most importantly, when my baby screams it doesn’t stress me out. Cry always means something so I go and fix whatever is wrong. When one can keep smiling while a passenger is shouting right in their face, handling a crying baby calmly is a breeze. Secondly, when my son naps I don’t waste this precious time watching TV or reading a book because I can do that while he’s feeding. Breastfeeding is a super productive time for me – besides enjoying my favourite TV show, I catch up on my emails, reply to messages, write birthday cards, read and get organised. Actually, I’m feeding him right now. Then when he naps I do all the tasks I am not able to complete when breastfeeding – mainly housework, make-up, shower etc. I also try to nap whenever I can.

My munchkin loves to be carried around the flat so he can look at things. I often use a sling so I have hands free to do little jobs around the flat. If I carry him on my shoulder, I can still do plenty of things one-handed, like for example putting away the dishes or taking down dry laundry (no, I don’t have a tumble dryer) which he finds quite fascinating.

So as I single mum I’m still able to cope, look like a respectable woman and live in a clean and well-organised home. It is not easy (especially since there is no man who comes home after work to relieve some of the pressure) but it is much easier than I thought it’d be. My advise is – prioritise, multitask, don’t waste a single moment and most importantly – don’t stress. And have some wine and chocolates as a reward for a job well done 🙂

Pre-baby maternity diary: This is how the most thoughtful gift looks like

Baby showers are okay. However, I wouldn’t want to have one of my own because I am simply not a “everyone-focus-on-me-and-play-silly-games” kind of person. But of course, if you want to buy me a piece of cake, then please go ahead! On Easter Monday we treated ourselves to an indulgent ladies afternoon tea. I ate more than my share of little cakes and warm scones and drank a bucket of fully caffeinated tea and a whole glass of champagne. There was a party in my belly!

I also received the most perfect present ever! Some of you might have read my pre-Xmas guide on choosing a gift for a mum-to-be where I was highlighting that I am not the baby. So while getting a pair of miniture socks is lovely, they certainly shouldn’t be in a package with my name label on it…

So on this occasion I didn’t expect a present but was given one that couldn’t have been more perfect. My friend got it absolutely spot on – thanks so much! Here is what my gift contained:

  • Two dummies. To shove in baby’s mouth (not both at once) while mummy is busy opening a bottle of
  • Prosecco. Yay! I can already imagine the delicate bubbles on my tongue! It’ll go great with
  • A box of chocolates. This will also serve as an emergency energy source.
  • When I’m out of prosecco, I still have a bottle of red wine. 2013 Rioja. Yes please! It’ll be perfectly complimented by
  • Blue cheese. Oh how I missed it! If you’re not a fan of blue cheese, then pâté will do. Or anything that is on the pregnancy ban list.
  • Then there is a tin of instant coffee packed with caffeine. It’ll be needed.
  • A pampering spa package containing various relaxing and de-stressing bath items that I won’t be able to live without.
  • And finally the most precious gift of all – baby-sitting hours. I will be a single mum with no family around so the prospect of someone being occasionally available to look after my little one while I….uhmmm….poop or shower alone and unobserved, is extremely appealing.

How awesome and thoughtful is that? If you’re looking for a gift for someone who’s about to push a baby out, hopefully you’ll find it inspiring. Giving birth must be a breeze when one imagines all the goodies to come back home to 🙂

Pre-baby maternity diary: “Are you afraid?”

image7Dear diary, on a third occasion this week I was asked whether I was afraid.

“Afraid of what?” was my response designed to sound mildly ignorant with the intention to make the person asking that question feel slightly awkward. Of course I know they are referring to childbirth. But, what kind of question is that? Are you suggesting that I should be afraid? Of something that is a normal part of life? I mean, women and animals have done it since always, plenty of them multiple times. So how bad can it really be? If a woman did it once and it was a horrendously traumatic experience that is impossible to overcome, she sure as hell wouldn’t choose to do it again, and again. Right?

Nowadays we just love drama, don’t we? Think of all the reality shows and shocking stories that we are fed and enjoy being fed. If you tuned in to watch One Born Every Minute and this birthing lady would be just chilling there, then pop and baby would come out like “that was easy”, you’d find it disappointingly boring. Actually, it would never get on national television in the first place. People are obsessed with horror stories. I had a stranger on a bus telling me about how her cousin’s wife’s baby died at birth, and one of my best friends within five minutes of finding about my pregnancy proceeded to describe her colleague’s childbirth story that ended something like “…so after several long hours the doctor shoved his hands in and literally ripped the baby out”. Great!

So come one and ask me if I’m afraid. Based on what the majority says, I should be. But despite baby brain, I am smart enough to know that fear is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. If you expect pain and freak yourself out, then you will be in pain, guaranteed. People don’t give their brain power enough credit. Reality is not objective, nor is pain. Our expectations and perceptions shape our reality. Our mind and attitude impacts our future and our perception of presence more than we are willing to admit. After realising that, it would be silly not to take advantage of it. My attitude is to be prepared for the worst while expecting the best. I am treating my upcoming childbirth experience like a spa day. Seriously – there are some similarities from lavender essential oil to dedicated staff who will be there just for me. Yes please!

And if things gets tough, I know I’m always tougher. I’ve been fortunate enough to complete a 220 kilometres hike to Santiago de Compostela. On a third day of the pilgrimage I messed up my knees. It was bad. Over the next five days I carried on walking 30km each day, with a full backpack, in total agony. With literally every step I took, I was surprised I was still able to carry on. I was free to quit at any time, but I didn’t. I put it down to my extreme stubbornness, my inability to give up and a small glass of red wine consumed every couple hours. (Can I bring a cheeky flask to the birth center?) Today, this experience gives me comfort and reassurance because I know that if (IF!) I was in agony, I can always carry on.

So if anyone else asks me if I’m afraid, my response will remain seemingly oblivious. Afraid of what? Besides, it is a total waste of time and energy to spend months agonising over something that will be done and dusted in a few hours…

Pre-baby maternity diary: Day 14 – On kindness and respect

There is one thing I’ll really miss about being pregnant. No, it’s not the right to stuff my face 24/7 (which is definitely up there). It is the kindness of so many people – friends and strangers alike, especially men. Because I’m pregnant, everyone suddenly treats me little nicer than they normally would. And it’s not just holding the door for me and bringing me (and sometimes paying for) food and drinks. Recently, I dropped a glove and this chap raced over to pick it up for me so I don’t need to bend down. He obviously didn’t know that I can still reach my feet and tie my shoe laces standing up (impressive, right?). I’ve noticed people look at me differently, with respect – and respect is what I’ve always been after so I’m loving it.

But why did I have to get pregnant to be treated with respect? I worked hard all my life, earned two university degrees, am employed as a manager for a major airline and take pride in being polite to people. Shouldn’t that be the basis for being respected? Yet oddly, I am receiving better acknowledgement and finally feeling like a valuable member of society just because my belly is housing another human being. How can that be a good enough reason? I could have just got into my situation by getting wasted one night and sleeping with a stranger whose name I don’t remember, then, before discovering my accidental pregnancy, I could have smoked and drank all the way through the first trimester which probably has impacted my baby, and now I finally managed to track down the father of my child and am suing him for a whole lot for money so I don’t need to work ever again. I mean what kind of respect would I deserve if this was true?

Nonetheless, everyone is kind to me and I love it. At the same time it feels bittersweet because soon enough I’ll be just another tired mother of an infant and people will give me annoyed looks when my baby cries in public. I wish they saved some of the respect and kindness for later on when I really need it. Or, displayed it towards the elderly who definitely deserve it more than any pregnant woman does. And finally, can’t we just be kind to each other all the time?

Pre-baby maternity diary: Day 10 – To drink or not to drink

Happy St. Patrick’s day people! How unusually awesome is to be sober at 7 pm after spending the afternoon in an Irish pub!

If someone told me I’d survive 9 months without any regular alcohol consumption (and find it easy) I’d call them mad. I blame my previous job. Just recently I discussed this with my pilot friend and we both agreed that upon finishing our duty and getting to our hotel room, there was no other way to switch off and be able to fall asleep than to self-medicate. We were able to get these cute miniature alcohol bottles off the plane for quite cheap money. We called them crew purchase. In my case it was two glasses of wine that were sufficient to dissolve the stress accumulated during the flight and relax me enough not to care about what happened (there was always some kind of drama on board). I stopped drinking just as I stopped flying which is probably the only way I was able to achieve this. It was easier than I imagined it’d be, and I immediately started noticing the perks of being constantly sober.

My wallet thanks me every time I go to a pub and spend £4 on two alcohol-free beers instead of £15 on a bottle of wine (and then some). There is no dodgy kebab or curry take-away to finish the night off because I am sober enough to make healthier dinner choices. The best thing for a control freak like myself is that I am in control of my behaviour at all times. I was always a pretty sensible drunk so the craziest thing I’ve done in the past few years was falling asleep with my contact lenses on and getting a tikka masala stain on my sheets. But still, it’s great to be responsible for all your actions, and consider not flossing before bedtime the wildest event of the night. Also, they say that alcohol slows down your metabolism. A trainer in our gym dramatically calls it poison. I’ve been literally stuffing my face for the past month without gaining a single pound. It’d hardly be possible if there was alcohol involved.

Counting all these benefits I’m seriously considering not resuming drinking once my baby is born. All the money and calories and embarrassing moments I’ll save…….

Nahhhh, just kidding! Already bought a bottle of champagne and a nice Bordeux for when the baby is out! Wheel them in, as the daddy says. I’m assuming he means the beer barrels. Happy St. Patrick’s day kids!

Pre-baby maternity: Day 5 – Too. Much. Baby.

Think of pre-Christmas festive time when you are bombarded by everything Christmassy and it completely sucks you in. Consumed by a false sense of urgency you go mental, searching for additional presents (despite having completed Xmas shopping a month ago), gathering boxes of sweets and giant bags of crisps because you don’t want to run out, watching multiple YouTube videos with napkin folding instructions, and driving from one supermarket to another looking for the perfect turkey.

It’s exactly the same when expecting a baby, except the turkey is your pram and Xmas presents are all the adorable sleeper suits that you just can’t resist buying although you already have one too many. Actually, it’s even worse, because you know when to expect Father Christmas, but baby can decide to arrive at any time making the whole experience even more stressful.

I thought that after assembling my pram and sticking newborn clothes to the washing machine, I’ll be all set. I was planning to stretch my legs and binge watch all the free Amazon Prime box sets. How wrong was I! It took me an hour to figure out how to use a car seat, and after two days of blocking my bedroom floor, my pram is still lying there in pieces that should somehow fit together. Apparently, one ought to use non-bio products for baby laundry. And all the cloth covers of the swingy seat and Moses basket should be washed as well. Now suddenly I need all sorts of items I had no idea existed, like scratch mitts and a baby snot sucker. Oh, and a hospital bag must be packed. A birth plan. Why can’t I just wing this labour thing? Are my sensitive baby wipes sensitive enough? How the hell do I wrap a baby in this odd swaddle cloth? Like a giant burrito perhaps? Shall I launder stuffed animals too? How many nappies of which size do I need? What to do with this breast pump? Shall I watch cow milking documentaries to educate myself? Have I eaten enough protein today? What if my baby is going to be ugly? Can I pleeease have a glass of wine?

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…..simply too much baby.

So I decided to introduce a non-baby day. I’ll treat myself to the first one this Saturday. No baby talk. If you ask me baby related questions I’ll ignore you. Don’t show me your babies either. If there is an infant on TV I’ll change the channel. No breast pads and bibs and teats. Only me with some grown up entertainment and maybe a naughty little drink. The only baby I’ll be willing to acknowledge that day will be baby Guinness. Who’s coming to the pub with me?

Pre-baby maternity diary: Day 3 #loveparkrun

Let’s skip right to the important bit – the highlight of my day which was volunteering at my local parkrun for the first time ever. If you don’t know what parkrun is then you’re missing on some seriously good stuff in your life. It’s a 5K run in your local park that takes place every Saturday morning. If you consider your chances of surviving a 5K run as strong as winning the lottery, do not despair. You don’t need to run, you can walk. Or crawl.

My favourite thing about parkrun is that it’ll be exactly what you make it: a life-or-death race, a part of your marathon training, an opportunity to catch up with friends, a casual stroll in the park, or an unconventional hangover cure. On top of that, it’s all about the community. Parkrunners are friendly and welcoming. If you turn up alone not knowing anyone, at around your 2nd kilometer you’ll have a few new friends (unless you’re sprinting so fast that you leave everyone behind).

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Parkrun is totally free because it’s ran (if you pardon the pun) by volunteers. Being grateful for all this, I felt it was time for me to give something back and volunteer. Besides, at over 35 weeks pregnant, my ability to run equals my ability to resist cookie dough ice cream in my freezer (i.e. it’s pretty weak). A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned that I look like I’m running while I’m really more like shuffling about. So clearly it was time for me to don a hi-viz jacket and be a tail walker alongside the friend who insulted my running style.

It was a great fun! I enjoyed myself so much that next week I’ll be back doing exactly the same – tail walking and picking up those of you who pass out as a result of previous night’s Guinness consumption. It’ll be St. Paddy’s day! I’ve got shamrock face stickers ready, so head to Upton Court parkrun in Slough, or check where your local one is.