A Yorkshire based lifestyle & parenting blog written by Claire Chircop.

MY 6 MONTH OLD'S DAILY ROUTINE.

I’ve been in a somewhat reflective mood recently thinking about our parenting journey & how far we’ve come over the last six months, especially since those really quite difficult newborn days.


I wrote a blog post at the time about our daily routine with Amelia and looking back on it today is just mad! In some ways it feels like it’s been forever since the 4am get ups and the every three hour feeds, but in others it feels like it’s been no time at all. Parenthood really is a wild ride!

Amelia’s currently 6 months old & we definitely seem to have settled into a more steady routine now. I think since we’ve started weaning things have become quite clockwork, which in itself sounds really boring, but with regards to my sometimes angelic sometimes demonic child I think is a total blessing. 


6am - Our day usually starts around this time, give or take half an hour or so. Depending on the time or how tired I’m feeling depends on which one of us gets up. 95% of the time it’ll be me, I’ve always thought that seeing as though Dan goes to work all day & has to be around clients and people of importance that it’s better for him to get a good night’s sleep rather than myself. That being said he’s such a deep sleeper getting him to wake up and see to Amelia anyway can be such a battle. It’s much easier for me to get up and get on with the day than it is waking my husband from his slumber.

6:30am - We head downstairs, say hello to Willow and start making breakfast. Amelia’s currently taking 150ml of milk with either a small bowl of porridge or a fruit pot, depending on how we’re feeling. This morning it was a fruit pot as I had it left over in the fridge from yesterday however I prefer giving her porridge on a morning as she seems to enjoy it a bit more - She goes nuts for it in fact, but waste not want not.

8:30am - Time for her morning nap! She’s always been like clockwork when it comes to her first nap as it always takes her around two hours since waking up to drop off again. Amelia’s morning nap can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half, I think it just depends on how tired she is from the night before although recently she’s not been napping for as long.

10am - She’s currently feeding four times a day so late morning we have brunch - Again she has 150ml of milk but this time I’ll give her something a bit meatier than breakfast. By meaty, I don’t mean actual meat, I mean something with a bit of texture, so she’ll have fruit wafers or fresh strawberries and raspberries. I like the 10am feed to be a bit more hands on for Amelia although she’s still quite confused by it all. She feeds herself really well for the first half and then seems to give up, she still has the food in her hands but it’s as if she’s forgotten about it & I have to remind her it’s there - crazy baby!

11am - This is usually the time we get up and go. I try and do something outside of the house with Amelia everyday whether it’s a simple task like popping to the shops or we have much more of an adventure like our trips to Temple Newsam or Kirkstall Abbey. 


12:30pm - Time for another snooze! What I wouldn’t give to be able to nap three times a day! Honestly, it’s just rude isn’t it! I’d love to try and cut it down to twice a day, but Amelia’s currently napping three times a day, although admittedly the second one is always a bit wishy washy. It’s usually a car nap if we’ve been out somewhere or a quick snooze in the pram. It’s not a long one but It’s usually enough time for me to have a coffee or a quick browse of social media.

2:00pm - Feeding time again, again I’d love to cut this down so she only eats when we eat at standard breakfast, dinner & tea meal times, so if you’ve got any tips on adjusting meal times throw them my way. She usually has a Cow & Gate pot at this point, something quick, easy & insanely nice smelling. Does anyone else love the smell of baby food but hate the taste of it? I remember having to do taste tests of baby food when doing my child development course in school and it was still rank then - Ew! I’ve been giving her a bit of water at this point too, although if I’m totally honest it’s not been going down the best. I’ve been giving her it in her bottles though so I’m not sure if when she’s drinking she’s expecting to taste delicious milk and is then let down by it being boring water? Who knows? I’m going to keep at it though.

6:00pm - Daddy comes home from work and we’ll all sit and have tea together. We’ve started giving Amelia a variation of whatever we’re having for tea that night and so far everything seems to have gone down really well. There hasn’t been anything food wise she’s turned her nose up at during our weaning journey. She’ll have her fourth bottle with tea, we did try with water again at this point, but milk seems to be going down much better - I am going to keep trying with water though.

7:00pm - Bath! And by gosh does she need it! Our weaning journey has been so messy so far and there’s been days when she could have easily had three or four baths. It’s not long after she’s finished tea that she’s in the bath. We’ve been using the little ones lavender bubble bath from Asda as I’ve heard so many people rate it for a good night’s sleep which to be honest I’m not 100% convinced by, but it smells delicious anyway & we enjoy using it.


8:00pm - Bedtime is usually around 8:00pm and 99% of the time goes without a hitch. She’s definitely been a better sleeper since introducing food and even more so since she’s started self soothing. I feel like self soothing is a bit of a hot topic right now & although I understand it isn’t for everybody, the first week was especially tough for me, looking back now it was the best thing we could have done.

So there we have it - That’s what we’re doing with our days at the moment. It’s crazy looking back on my previous post when she was only six weeks old and reminiscing on just how hard it was back then. Don’t get me wrong we still have dificut days, but nothing compared to what it used to be like!

I think the unconditional love you have for your baby really makes you forget just how dificult those newborn days can be.

Have you settled into a routine with your little one?

Claire.X

MAMA IN QUESTION: KIM GRAINGE.

Welcome to my new mini-series 'Mama in Question' a 10 question questionnaire filled out by mama's all across the country, hoping to serve motherhood realness and show all new mums out there that we're all in this together... And in reality we're all just winging it! Details of how you can get involved will be down below.

Mama: Kim Grainge
Baby: Benny Grainge (7 months)


Q1. What's one thing you said you wouldn't do as a parent that you definitely have done?
Lost my patience and shouted at him for stuff he doesn’t understand. Like waking in the night, having tantrums etc. Numerous times shouting at him then feeling terribly guilty. 

Q2. What's been the hardest thing about motherhood so far?
The serious lack of knowledge. I don’t have a clue what I’m doing and yet I have to just plough on and hope for the best. And my emotions in the early days - that ‘era’ was a killer of a time. I really had no affection for my baby for the first 10 weeks. It was really emotional because I desperately wanted to love him, but I just couldn’t get passed the resentful feelings I had towards him: ‘What’s happened to my happy life?’

Q3. Have you settled into a routine with your little one? If so, how easy has it been?
Totally in a routine now. I went back to work after 4 months but I was really lucky that Benny just kind of ‘fell’ in to a routine himself. Like he started going to sleep at 7pm every night when he was a tiny baby, and my husband and I were like ‘Oh! Fabulous! Right, let’s do 7pm bedtimes then!’ And he’s just naturally (?) fallen in to his routine ever since - like his nap times and food times etc. I just followed his lead I suppose.

Q4. What's surprised you most about motherhood?
How much it totally transforms you - I’m now a cryer whenever I see anything remotely emotional. I’m also more confident. I’ve also given up the ‘career driven’ me. I’m also learning to respect my body in a different, whole new way. I’m just a whole new me in many ways. And how fiercely protective you become.


Q5. Do you think social media portrays motherhood correctly?
Not always. I make sure I follow very ‘real’ accounts (I only have Instagram so I’m not sure about other social medias). So ‘real’ accounts for me are like the ‘Unmumsy Mum’ and typical ones like her who swear and laugh at how hard this parenting gig is! 
I think a lot of social media pages like to show mums who are polished, in love, clean, happy children and they seem to have glorious polished homes. And in reality, unwashed hair, mountains of laundry and a whingy baby with food in their hair is closer to what most mums deal with!

Q6. How did you decide upon your baby's name?
It took four weeks for us to find Benny’s name - I’m an English teacher and love Latin. So we came across ‘Bene’ which means blessing in Latin and we thought of Benny as a blessing so we went with that. And we didn’t want something too common. But we wanted an older sounding name and it to be very ‘boyey’.

Q7. What's been your favourite memory so far on your parenting journey?
This is a really hard question. I don’t think I have one favourite memory of him. I have my favourite image of him in my mind - like when I’m at work and I think of him I think of his face when he gets caught doing something naughty and he scrunches his nose and laughs. He does that often and it makes me laugh too.

Q8. How do you feel you've changed since becoming a parent?
I’m more confident, I feel I know myself better, I’m definitely more patient. I also feel like my relationship is stronger, strangely enough. Lots of people say that having a baby tested their relationship but after 8 years together, me and Kev are stronger now than we ever have been.


Q9. What's been your proudest motherhood moment?
Just after giving birth. I felt proud that my body carried a little healthy baby. I suppose I regularly have proud moments of him because he gets loads of compliments - he’s a really easy going baby and he’ll sit for a loooong time and be well behaved in restaurants, plane journeys, at appointments etc. He seems to know when to be quiet which is nice.

Q10. Looking to the future, what are you most excited for your little one to experience?
I’m looking forward to our bond and our cuddles and playtimes together. Despite finding motherhood a very real struggle at first, I absolutely worship him now, and I completely love all of our time together, even if we’re just playing on the floor in the front room with his toys. He’s such a character and I’m looking forward to my new life as Benny’s mam and all of the lows and highs. And all of his ‘firsts’. I often daydream about my future with him and there’s SO MUCH to look forward to. I could cry typing this.

Kim's Instagram: @kimgrainge1

If you're wanting to get involved please feel free to DM me @__ClaireMac or send me an email to clairemacblog@gmail.com as I'd love for you to join the 'Mama's in Question' party bus.

You can answer whatever you feel comfortable answering, all I ask is that it's honest! I wan't to show others how flipping hard this parenting lark is!... Because I don't think we give ourselves enough credit for it! And we should! I'll of course be sharing the ish out of your social medias & blogs etc, so let's let loose, connect with one another and raise a glass to all those mamas just getting by!

Claire.X

OUR OVERNIGHT STAY WITH GROUPON AT OTLEY CHEVIN COUNTRY PARK

If you follow me on twitter you’ll know that I’ve been struggling to book an overnight stay for my husbands 30th birthday for quite some time. Surviving on a maternity wage is hard and unfortunately doesn’t leave all that much room for luxury, which is what I wanted when celebrating such a big birthday. 

I’d asked numerous times if any local bloggers had recommendations for overnight stays and although grateful of course I was always shown places which just weren’t in my budget, they looked bloody beautiful but it just wasn’t feasible considering how much money (basically nothing) I bring in on a monthly basis.

Finally after weeks of searching and getting quite down in the dumps about my money situation I was pushed in the direction of Groupon.


I’ve never used Groupon before but even after one quick look I knew I’d become 100% addicted to it!.. And I was right. I wasn’t particularly fussy about where we were going to stay, all I knew was that I wanted a bargain - And I think Groupon is amazing for that!

It didn’t take me long to find the overnight dinner bed & breakfast deal at Otley Chevin Country Park and to be honest I couldn’t input my card details fast enough. I’d finally sussed it! After weeks, probably months of searching I found somewhere to treat my family and not be left too much out of pocket - It was a win win situation!


Otley Chevin Country Park is situated a few miles north of Leeds, quite close to the airport and luckily is only a 40 minute drive from home for us. At first I was worried that it wouldn’t feel like a holiday because the Country Park is so close to home but I couldn’t have been more wrong! Bizarrely we were there and back in less than 24 hours, but it felt like so much longer as we’d had such a luxurious stay.


In order of being fully transparent, the deal included a nights stay in one of Otley Chevin Country Park’s Woodland cabins, which if I’m totally honest I feel is advertised incorrectly as the rooms weren’t very cabin like and looked much more like a standard hotel room. Unfortunately (or fortunately you could say) we had an issue with the sink in our bathroom and upon mentioning this to the reception staff we were very quickly moved to our very own Woodland lodge. I didn’t even have to use my complaining voice! I think at the time they were having a few plumbing issues with the rooms in our block, so there was absolutely no question about it, they moved us straight away & we couldn’t have been more grateful.


We were taken to the Nidderdale Lodge which was nestled in it’s own private area with fantastic views across the park and the central lake - It was blooming gorgeous! And the perfect little treat to celebrate my husband’s birthday.









Nidderdale is a two bedroomed lodge which sleeps up to four people with the master bedroom having a double & the second having two single beds. There’s an open plan lounge/kitchen/diner which is neutrally decorated and flooded with natural light through it’s large windows and patio doors.

The vibe is chilled, relaxed and it’s the ultimate place to stay for a digital detox, to unwind and forget about the stresses of day to day life. The reason I mention a digital detox is that we didn’t have wifi within the lodge, we did in the main building and restaurant, but the fact we couldn’t be on our phones while we were at Nidderdale was so blooming refreshing! Furthermore we only used the TV so we could watch Love Island (of course) but apart from that we were totally enjoying family time and being at one with the outdoors.

It was bliss!

And the sleep! Oh my goodness. It was honestly the best sleep I’ve had in a long time! Don’t get me wrong, I was up at 5am & then 6.30am with Amelia, but everything about that night’s sleep was amazing.


Part of the groupon deal included a 3 course evening meal, which when you’ve got a 6 month in tow we were a little bit apprehensive about - Apprehensive about the way our child was going to behave & apprehensive about what was going to be on the menu. Luckily for us neither were a problem!

There was a huge menu choice, even for those of us who got the Groupon bargain! I believe there are two separate menus for the Lakeside Restaurant, one for those like us who’d booked a package deal & then another for people who’d just booked the restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised by the extensive menu choice, I thought there wouldn’t be as much because I’d been stingy and booked a package deal but for both starter, main and dessert, I could have easily picked three or four choices from each!

For starters I chose the grilled asparagus, which I wouldn’t normally have opted for hadn’t I had it at a Salon Success event at The Restaurant Bar & Grill a little while ago. The asparagus was served with a poached egg & breaded chorizo, all of which worked perfectly together & for me made for a really tasty and light way to start the meal. Dan on the other hand went for the rather meaty crispy pork & black pudding terrine, which was lovely, however a little too filling for my liking - Dan obviously ate it no problem!


For main’s there were two courses which stuck out to both of us. Being the generous wife I am, I let Dan have first dibs (seeing as though it was his birthday and all that) he chose the duo of Yorkshire lamb. I opted for the braised shin of beef. Both meals were utterly delicious, so much so that neither of us thought to take a photo for you guys, we just chowed down and got on with it… And if that’s not a compliment to the chef, I don’t know what is! You didn’t even need a knife to cut the piece of beef I had, it just melted away! Pure perfection!


My favourite part of any meal is the dessert (sweet tooth ya’ll) however this time I opted for something out of my comfort zone & chose the creme brulee. Dan opted for the dark chocolate delice with a black cherry sorbet. Both were amazingly tasty however I’m so glad I chose what I did just because of how light it was. Just looking at Dan’s rich & chocolatey dessert made me feel full! I mean come on!... Look at it!

Our evening meal was just out of this world! I’d go back purely just for the food as everything about the Lakeside Restaurant was just sheer perfection! It’s even worth paying for the groupon deal price to stay in one of Otley Chevin Country Park’s hotel rooms & making a night of it - We rated it that much!


After such an amazing nights sleep & the wonder that was our evening meal, we had the highest hopes for breakfast… And guess what… It was amazing! There was a full continental buffet with fruit, yoghurts & pastries etc - Amelia tried Melon for the first time which went down an absolute treat, and then she stole some of my scrambled eggs from my full English breakfast. We both went for the full brekkie and neither of us were disappointed!


I understand that our room was upgraded but for all of this I only paid £99 - I’m not sure how much a woodland lodge would have set us back, but we couldn’t have been happier! Thank the Gods for leaky sinks! In all honesty the hotel room we had originally & the one included in the Groupon package deal was quite basic & lacked that wow factor you’d expect walking into the country park - However that being said, for the evening meal, breakfast & overall ‘away from it all’ experience I’d say it was well worth the money!

We had an amazing stay at Otley Chevin Country Park & would love to return in future… I’m still dreaming about that food!

Have you stayed in a lodge before?

Claire.X

MAMA IN QUESTION: ASHLEIGH DAVIS.

Welcome to my new mini-series 'Mama in Question' a 10 question questionnaire filled out by mama's all across the country, hoping to serve motherhood realness and show all new mums out there that we're all in this together... And in reality we're all just winging it! Details of how you can get involved will be down below.

Mama: Ashleigh Davis
Baby: Alexis Corrine Stilwell (5 weeks)




Q1. What's one thing you said you wouldn't do as a parent that you definitely have done?
I'm going to start off question one with possibly the worst parent answer I could ever give. There isn't anything in particular that I was adamant I wouldn't do. But there was one thing I shouldn't have done and should have definitely done differently. One night during one of the many night feeds I have accomplished in the past 5 weeks, my little one greeted me with those joyful high pitched screams! I jumped up to my feet ready to prepare her bottle. Although I was exhausted I made it through the next 30 minutes and the bottle came to an end. Thank the lord yet another feed was over and it was time for me to go back to bed. I knew in my head her nappy was likely to need to be changed but I was exhausted (Like, how many times do we need to change our babies, seriously!? they pee too much). I contemplated with myself for a good five minutes and unfortunately, my selfish mind won. I put her back to bed and hoped she'd hold on until the next time our tired eyes meet again... she didn't. We woke up in a patch of wetness and my god did I feel like an awful mother. It's safe to say this has not occurred again and I feel terrible for allowing it to in the first place. It's bloody hard being a parent and I can admit I've made mistakes. Motherhood is anything but a movie, this is real life.

Q2. What's been the hardest thing about motherhood so far?
The hardest thing for me has actually been adjusting to my new life. I'm not afraid to admit I've struggled since giving birth. Not only with my new role as a mother but learning to accept my new body as well. I've had a hard time dealing with my hormones and emotions since bringing my daughter into this world. Postnatal depression or otherwise known as baby blues is no joke. It's a very hard process and without the support I've had, I don't know how on earth I would have made it through. Each day does get better and I'm sure I'll be fine in the end but for now, it's ok to admit I do struggle.

Q3. Have you settled into a routine with your little one? If so, how easy has it been?
I do try to keep a routine with Alexis. For instance, my little one does have a bath and bed at the same time every night. Lol, I joke. As a mother of a 5 week old, we do not have day and night. We have sleep when we can and unfortunately that's a rare occasion in this house. I think Alexis is a little too young to have a routine yet and If I'm wrong please give me tips on how to make this happen! because I'm obviously doing something not quite right.

Q4. What's surprised you most about motherhood?
The thing that surprised me most about being a mother was the intense amount of love I felt for my baby. I wanted to mention this as during my whole pregnancy I was scared because I did not feel a connection. Don't get me wrong, I wanted no harm to come to my baby but I didn't feel like I had bonded with her. This extremely bothered me because I knew I wasn't a bad person and wanted to be nothing more than a great mum. When my little one finally arrived on the 21st of May, I was absolutely besotted with love. I can't even begin to explain the love I had for her. I just want other mums to know that sometimes it does take time. Feeling this way does not make you a bad person or in fact a bad mother, so please do not feel guilty.



Q5. Do you think social media portrays motherhood correctly?
I'm going to be entirely honest, I don't know. I think it really depends on who and what people are sharing! During my pregnancy, I did find many parental accounts on Instagram which did share their experiences with complete honesty and I really enjoyed following these! I think it's super important to show the true side to motherhood because it is a fantastic and rewarding job but it's also super hard. So why lie about it? The truth is, it's flipping challenging at times. Although, when you look at parenting and motherhood from the celebrities perspective, there is one thing that really does bother me. I don't feel that they show after birth recovery honestly. Correct me if I'm wrong but I'm forever seeing celebrities and influencers give birth and within a week they already have their body back and look even better than before. From my experience, that's not right? I'm 5 weeks postpartum and my body has changed completely. I don't know what I expected but I guess I kinda expected to go back to the same but that just hasn't happened.

Q6. How did you decide upon your baby's name?
Since I was a little girl I always knew that I wanted to call my daughter Alex. I have always loved that name... or even anything slightly similar for example; Alexandra, Alexa, Alexis! Thankfully, my partner also liked this so I didn't have to fight him over the name choice either, which is always a bonus. Since day one, we always knew we were going to call her Alexis. But then that left the question of what's going to be her middle name? Or are we even going to have a middle name? Sadly my partners mum passed away so we decided to keep a little part of her in our family. We decided to use my partner's mums name and call her Alexis Corrine. I thought that it was a beautiful, unique and perfect choice for us and for our daughter Alexis.

Q7. What's been your favourite memory so far on your parenting journey?
Although I haven't been a parent for the longest amount of time, my favourite memory so far was when I saw my little girl smile for the first time. She hasn't quite learned how to properly interact, smile or laugh yet but, the other day I was talking to her and she was so intensely looking back at me. You could tell that she was taking it all in and then without me expecting it, she cracked the most genuine and beautiful smile ever! Now that will always be one of my favourite memories!

Q8. How do you feel you've changed since becoming a parent?
I can't deny the fact I was a lot more selfish before becoming a parent, but then again, I only had me to think about. Now, she is and always will be my main priority. Alexis's needs come first before mine each and every day for the next 18 years (I imagine possibly even longer if she's anything like me lol, hi mum). The number of cold dinners I have eaten and cold cuppa teas I have drunk all because Alexis required me first. One of the many joys of parenthood!

Q9. What's been your proudest motherhood moment?
My proudest moment continues and repeats itself on average every three hours of every day. I could not be any prouder than when I hear my tiny little bubba bring up the loudest of burps after her bottle. Call me a weirdo but until you're a mother you won't understand the joy it brings to hear them get that wind up. I don't care if it comes out the top end or even the bottom. From the words of Shrek himself, better out than in! So, when my girl burps it brings me nothing but proudness and I can't wait to hear it again!


Q10. Looking to the future, what are you most excited for your little one to experience?
Everything! I simply cannot wait to experience each and every stage. I have decided to take it all in my stride and join her on this magical yet tiring journey. I understand that some stages in their educational journey are harder than others (aka; when she can run and I can no longer sit down for more than 10 seconds) but I'm ready to handle it all! I can't wait to see her learn and grow into the wonderful lady I know she will be. Now, how exciting does all that sound!

Ashleigh's Blog: www.thestoryofashleighdavis.com
Ashleigh's Instagram: @thestoryofash6
Ashleigh's Twitter: @thestoryofash6
Ashleigh's Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ashleighdavis6

If you're wanting to get involved please feel free to DM me @__ClaireMac or send me an email to clairemacblog@gmail.com as I'd love for you to join the 'Mama's in Question' party bus.

You can answer whatever you feel comfortable answering, all I ask is that it's honest! I wan't to show others how flipping hard this parenting lark is!... Because I don't think we give ourselves enough credit for it! And we should! I'll of course be sharing the ish out of your social medias & blogs etc, so let's let loose, connect with one another and raise a glass to all those mamas just getting by!

Claire.X