Anonymous guest bloggers

Theatre seating

Have you ever wanted to write or say something on your blog, but held back from putting it out there because you weren’t quite sure how it would be received, or because you didn’t want your nearest and dearest reading it, or because it wasn’t quite in keeping with your blog, or simply because you just weren’t sure. I know there have been one or two blog topics that have crossed my mind, or that I have started writing only for them to be swiftly designated to the trash because of one of the above reasons.

But how would you feel if you were offered the opportunity to blog about it under the shield of anonymity? If you could actually sit down and type out that blog that you thought about fleetingly for that moment..

In 2014 My Petit Canard will be offering a monthly guest spot for bloggers to blog anonymously about anything and everything related to parenting and children. The only conditions are that they are in keeping with the topic of parenting and/or children, no profanity is used, it isn’t to the detriment of others (brands/organisations/people) and any images used are royalty free or attributable or your own. Other than that, the spotlight is quite literally yours!

If that has you sitting down drafting that blog that you have so perfectly crafted in your mind quicker than you can say “me time” then get in touch. You can contact me through the blog, via email or on Twitter.

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My blogging new years resolutions

2014

I jumped into blogging with both feet first sometime back in November. Literally. I didn’t do any research, I didn’t even check out any other blogs. I just decided one evening that I was finally going to start a blog, so signed up to WordPress, picked a theme that looked ok and off I went. I didn’t mind that my blog looked like a shell of a blog, at first. But the more you get into it, the more you want to be able to be proud of the aesthetics as well as the content. So over the holidays I finally got round to making it look a bit more pretty, and a bit more user-friendly. It’s not what id call all singing and dancing, but it’s probably the best its going to get without a budget. So that’s the blog cracked. For now. But what good is a blog without very many readers? Of course I am hugely, hugely grateful for the readers I already have, and actually a little surprised that I have readers that are so interested in what im writing. I blog for the love of it. It will never be about the numbers. But I do blog in the hope that people will want to read what im writing, as im sure most bloggers do.

I stumbled on an article of blogging resolutions for 2014 when I was on Pinterest over the holidays, and although im not really into setting new years resolutions, I realised that this is just what My Petit Canard needs if im really going to the blog off the ground properly. So here’s my six blogging new years resolutions for 2014:

1. Buy my own domain name – I love blogging and I really want to make the blog look and feel a bit more professional. So the blog has had a bit of a revamp over the holidays, an email account has been set up and buying the domain name will be the icing on the cake. I also quite like the idea of business cards, but I think I’ll take it one step at a time!

2. Check out the blog analytics for My Petit Canard and understand what they mean – what days are the best days to post on, what do people like to read and anything else I can glean from those clever little stats that WordPress rustles up at the click of a button!

3. Learn the basics of SEO – not something that I’m particularly excited about but it does seem rather important in helping get the blog posts out there. Yawn.

4. Commit to a realistic blogging schedule – an ad hoc basis twice a week has worked pretty well for me so far, but Id like to step this up a gear if I can without making it start to feel like work.

5. Write a guest post for another blogger – not really sure about how to approach this one, but hopefully I’ll figure it out at some point throughout the year (any invites?).

6. Seek out guest posts for My Petit Canard – I really need to have a think about who, what and why I would have someone guest post on the blog. I have already come across loads of fabulous bloggers so I don’t think it will be too hard picking some. I would just hope that they would want to!

So there you have it, my blogging resolutions for 2014!

Are you setting any blogging new years resolutions or goals for 2014? If so I’d love to hear what they are. Similarly if you have any tips, or if you can help me achieve any of my resolutions then please get in touch!

My top six new parent essentials

Baby Hands

I was bathing the little lady this evening when I realised that the bath support I was using was one of the most useful things we have been given as new parents. Which got me to thinking, most of the things we have bought or been lucky enough to receive from friends and family have been used and have been useful, but there are definitely some things that have stood out as things that have made our lives that little bit easier as new parents. So I thought Id share what I consider my top six new parent must haves in no particular order:

1: Baby bath support. We have the Jahgoo Baby Bath Support from John Lewis, but anything of a similar design will infinitely make bath time a lot easier and a lot less scary, especially with a new baby. We used it from our first bath time when our little lady was only 2 weeks old and are still using it now 5 months on. They don’t cost very much, but are worth their weight in gold!

2: Moses basket. Now I never had any intentions of getting a Moses basket initially. It was only at the insistence of my husband, mother in law and a friend that I conceded, and boy am I glad I did. My original plans were to have the little lady sleeping in her cot in the nursery from day dot, but peer pressure, the health and safety guidelines and the delightful surprise gift of a Moses basket meant that she was bunking in with us, and up to a few days ago still was. Again, this is something that has made our lives that little bit easier. I didn’t realistically think through how wearing it would be to trek back and forwards to the nursery in the night, especially when breastfeeding, so I am eternally grateful that we have a Moses basket. I suppose the only caveat here is that not all babies like and take to sleeping in a Moses basket, but that’s not something you’ll know until you have one.

3. Baby monitor. This is something that we only really started to use in the last two or three months. For a while I was starting to think that we’d wasted a small fortune on our snazzy Angelcare video and sound monitor, but now that the little lady has started to sleep in her cot in the nursery it is paying dividends. I’ve felt relatively relaxed in transitioning her into her cot because I know that I can see her and hear her quite easily when im not in the same room as her. What is also great about our one in particular is that it also reads the room temperature which really puts me at ease.

4. Widgey nursing cushion. As a breastfeeding mummy I highly recommend the widgey nursing cushion for making things that little bit more comfortable and easier on your arms. Not only does this fabulous cushion help with breastfeeding, but it doubles up a support for baby and for helping guests, particularly little ones hold baby. This cushion has been used and abused in our house so much so that we’re on our second one!

5. Muslins. I never really knew what Id use these for before the little lady came along, but I knew that they were something that parents with babies seemed to have, so I bought and was gifted with lots of pretty colourful muslin’s in all shapes and sizes. Since the little lady arrived I’ve discovered that you pretty much use them for anything and everything. They are so versatile and that is what is so great about them. We have them lying pretty much all over the house – in the cot, in the lounge, in the change bag, the pushchair.. They are an essential new parent purchase. My little lady was born in the midst of the summer when we had that rare spell of 30 degree weather so she spent her first few weeks and months sleeping in her Moses basket with only a muslin. We’ve also used them for the obvious spit ups, as a bit of a cover when im breastfeeding, as a shade over the pushchair in the sun and in the rain and for about half a dozen other things I’ve already forgotten!

6. Car seat mobile. We started off in the beginning with one of those spiral travel toys that you wrap around the handle of the car seat. But after one or two journeys with it we realised that it just keep slipping and falling, and then were advised that they are not actually supposed to be used in the car – who would have thought it? Luckily for us, a friend gave us a musical mobile that you can attach to the car seat which I thought was quite novel, and I must say, I never thought Id love a musical mobile so much. Its taken us from a baby who hated being in a car seat and in the car, to one that is happy and easily soothed the instant she is put in there.

So there you have it, my top six new parent essentials. Do you have any new parent essentials that you would add to this list?

Disclaimer: this is not a paid or sponsored review of any of the products mentioned. All views are my own.

The A to Z of Me

ChampagneAfternoon teaShoppingLondon

I was tagged by the lovely Not A Frumpy Mum to write a blog on the A – Z of me. The idea being that you write something about yourself for each letter in the alphabet. Sound difficult? Well it is. But Id like to say I had a fair stab at it. So if you’ve ever wondered who the mummy behind My Petit Canard actually is, here’s a bit about me:

A is for Afternoon Tea. I absolutely adore going for afternoon tea. I love the quaintness of it all. Eating sandwiches with cutlery, drinking tea from bone china, scones with lots of jam and cream and beautiful cakes that look like miniature works of art.

B is for Blogging and My Petit Canard. In case you were wondering, im not French, but My Petit Canard was a term of endearment that I used when I used to talk to my daughter when she was in my tummy. So when I decided to start a blog about my experiences of motherhood, it felt like it only made sense to use that same term, and voila, My Petit Canard was born.

C is for Cakes. I have a very sweet tooth and absolutely love cakes of all types. I’m the type of girl who wouldn’t think twice about starting a meal with dessert or having one instead of dinner.

D is for Daughter. I have a five month old daughter who I absolutely adore and cherish. She keeps me on my toes most of the time, but I love being her mummy and wouldn’t change her for the world.

E is for Entertaining. I love entertaining and hosting. Christmas, birthdays, baby showers, christenings, weddings, any excuse really. I love the planning and preparation and getting everything just so. But above all, I love showing friends and family a good time.

F is for Family and Friends. I have both a small family and a small circle of friends. I may not get to see all of them very often, but I’m the type of person that doesn’t have friends for friends sake, so those that I consider friends and family are held very closely and dearly to my heart.

G is for God. I never usually write or really talk about the fact that I’m a Christian. I’m not the type of person that forces their faith or views on others, but I would really like for my daughter to be brought up having the same type of faith in God.

H is for Handbags. Just like shoes, I have a bit of a thing for handbags. I never really used to be that bothered by handbags until a few years ago. I’m not sure if it was when I started working in the city, or when my husband bought me my first Mulberry bag, but somewhere along the line I started to love and lust over beautiful handbags. There’s nothing quite like the smell of a nice new handbag – im pretty sure its the equivalent of the new car smell for men!

I is for Indecisive. I’m really bad at making small, insignificant, everyday decisions. I have often missed out on pretty good deals and opportunities because it has taken me so long to make a decision. It annoys me, and it annoys my husband even more.

J is for Jazz. I adore Jazz music. I find it so soothing and relaxing, it instantly transports me and puts me in a good mood wherever I am.

K is for Karma. Because I’m a great believer in what goes around comes around and you will often hear me saying this.

L is for London. Im a London girl at heart. I was raised in London but have moved further and further away from it the older I have got. I love living further out where it is a little greener and a little less crowded, but I always love it when I get to go back into London town.

M is for Management Consultant. When im not being mummy full-time, this is what I do, and I love it. I love the challenge and variety it gives me, but not the stress and the late nights.

N is for Notepad. I’m a bit of a list maker, so I have quite a few notepads lieing around the house. I make lists for pretty much everything. At times I have multiple lists for the same thing which can get a bit confusing – I should probably write a list of all the lists I have so I can keep track!

O is for OCD. I don’t actually have OCD, but I would definitely say I have OCD tendencies when it comes to things like gift wrapping and planning events. Although I’m sure my husband would prefer it to be on something useful like cleaning!

P is for Petite. I take after my mother and am rather on the petite size. I am 5ft and not an inch more or an inch less. I quite enjoy being petite and never really realise quite how short I am until I see photos, which is probably quite a good thing otherwise Id probably have that short person syndrome where you try to overcompensate in some awful way or another.

Q is for Quidco. Quidco isn’t something that Ive actually used for very long, but I seem to be completely obsessed with it at the moment.

R is for Roast Dinner. A roast with all the trimmings has to be one of my all time favourite meals. I love to cook it and I love to eat it.

S is for Shoes. I have a bit of a thing for shoes of the high-heeled kind. Ok, a lot of a thing for shoes. But less so since the little lady came along and I can find less and less reasons and places to wear them to.

T is for Twenty Nine. My age in years as of tomorrow (Wednesday), and I must say I’m quite looking forward to heading towards the big 3-0.

U is for Understanding. I like to think that I am quite an understanding and empathetic kind of person. It would be one of the words I would hope friends and family would use to describe me!

V is for Vodka and Coke. My drink of choice, and one that I havent had for a very long time now, (at the risk of sounding like an alcoholic) 14 months to be precise. My preferred tipple is Grey Goose, and I got quite upset recently when my husband accidentally smashed an unopened 1 litre bottle of it all over the kitchen floor.

W is for Watches. Another thing that I have a little bit of a thing for. I have a couple of lovely Michael Kors numbers that I love to wear anywhere and everywhere. They instantly make me feel a little bit more dressed up everyday.

X is for Xmas. Xmas, or rather Christmas as I like to call it is one of my absolute favourite times of year. The festivities feel even more magical now that we have a daughter to celebrate it with. I cant wait to start creating our own family traditions.

Y is for Yoga. I’m not quite a yogi, but I have done yoga on and off for years. I find it such a relaxing and enjoyable release for my body when I do get the chance to do it.

Z is for Zara. My absolute favourite store and wardrobe staple of choice. I can quite happily spend an age in one of their stores perusing all the lovely, lovely, lovely things. If you ever bump into me on the high street, chances are it’ll be in a Zara.

So there you have it, the A – Z of My Petit Canard. Following the A – Z of me tradition, Id like to tag (and im really hoping they haven’t already been tagged) Charlie and Mummy, Dilly Bug Dj, Teacher 2 Mummy,  Puddin and Pie and Dancing with Dirty Feet!

Raising an iPad generation

Baby on laptop

One thing I love about blogging is that I don’t need to have all the answers. I can talk about things that I think about, things that I question and debate but don’t ever seem to reach a conclusion on. Like my latest musings over children and technology, which I think are quite timely with Christmas fast approaching.

Im pretty sure some form of technology gadget, be it an iPad, iPhone or iTouch (for all those mini Apple aficionados) or a Galaxy Tab, Lexus or Lumia will be at the top of most children’s Christmas lists this year, which leads me to my question; “at what age do you start to allow children to have access to tablets and other technology if at all?”

Before I had children I had always thought that I would be one of those parents that didn’t let their children watch TV, full stop. The subject of technology had never entered my mind. I suppose because iPads and iPhones weren’t really around back then so I had no reason to think they would be as prevalent as they are today. That they would pose a bigger question than TV does. Incidentally I do allow my daughter to watch TV very, very occasionally – its funny how your perspective on things change once you actually have children.

However Ive noticed over the last year or two that children seem to be getting access to tablets and the like younger and younger. Ive also noticed that they have a bit of a knack for it. But im in two minds about how to approach this with my daughter. Because on the one hand, I feel that developmentally exposure to such technology cant be a good thing for her young developing brain. However, on the other hand technology is clearly the future and surely it would only make sense for her to get to grips with it whilst she is young like the rest of her generation seem to be. Should I really be the one holding her behind when I don’t know what the future looks like? But there is a part of me that wants her to experience the real pages in books and not electronic ones on a Kindle, that wants her to enjoy stacking real wooden alphabet blocks and have fun playing with a real abacus rather than through apps on an iPad. For me its a real dilemma. These tablets and gadgets offer so much so easily. She can do all of the things I describe above and more without even having to move from one location. No having to get out different toys and put them away, or even necessarily having to buy new toys. These tablets and gadgets make it all so easy and convenient, for both the child and the parents. They are not only play things, but educational too. They are an entertainer, an educator and a distraction all in one. The thing is, no matter how hard I try to conceal the iPad or iPhone from my daughter, she sees it and she notices. I see her attention caught by the shiny things with lights on. At 5 months old my daughter is already entranced by these gadgets (what is it about children and technology?!). At the same time, I am aware of just how much I use both of these things so how can I expect her not to want to do the same once she is able to.

Our neighbours recently came round for coffee with their five year old son. With Christmas approaching I asked the parents what toys he is currently into. I was expecting to hear something along the lines of cars, Monsters Inc or perhaps Lego. What I wasn’t expecting to hear was that their child is no longer into toys. That he used to like cars but since he started using the iPad all he likes is the iPad. I didn’t bother to ask whether he liked the cars we bought for him a few months ago. The point is, that at five years old a child has stopped enjoying toys because of a piece of technology has made them redundant in his world. Now perhaps that is a one off, but it was the saddest thing Ive heard in a long time, and it is not something that I want for my daughter.

So the question I put out there to other parents is how are you raising your iPad generation? How have you introduced and moderated technology in their lives? What has your approach been? What have you learnt and what are your recommendations to new parents?

A letter to my body..

Baby bump

I feel betrayed..

I looked after you for 10 whole months. I treated you like the holy grail. I ate well. I didn’t drink. I abstained from anything and everything that they said you shouldn’t eat or drink. All the things I love – Pate, Camembert, runny yolks.. I worked out up until 7 months. I started walking. I conceded to you and ate more than I ever have before. I took vitamins and had the requisite jabs. I hypno-birthed and attended antenatal. I even started drinking water.  You had it good before, but for 10 months you had it better than you ever had. I thought we were partners. I thought that if I treated you well, if I looked after you and worked with you, you would work with me when the day came. I embraced you and your changes. I loved you and marveled at how amazing you were. I was excited, nervous and anxious all at the same time about what lay at the end of our journey, but I trusted you. I thought that if you could do all this with such ease and grace then we would be fine. I felt at ease, a quiet confidence.

So why then did you let me down. How did we go from such calm to such confusion. I can’t quite figure it out. My mind is still fuzzy. I can’t recall an exact sequence of events, and I am upset at you. I am upset because I thought we were supposed to work together. I am upset because I didn’t get the memo. Because if I did, I would have prepared myself better. I would have done certain things differently. I am upset because I cannot recall in perfect detail, one of the most important events in my life. I am upset because I have to rely on someone else to fill in the gaps, and I am upset because it makes me sad to think about it.

But how can I be mad at you. Because at the end of it all you gave me the most wonderful and precious gift, a daughter. I just don’t understand how such happiness can be tinged with such sadness. I feel disappointed. Disappointed because we couldn’t do something that we should have been able to do, you and I. Instead we needed assistance and intervention, and not just a little, but quite a lot. I’m confused, because at the time it was the right thing to do, and if the same sequence of events occurred I may very well have made the same choices. It felt right at the time. But then why do I feel so scared by the experience. Why then can I not bring myself to think about it. Why then, five months on does it all still feel so raw. Why then do I feel so betrayed..

Am I the only woman that feels like this? I would love to hear from you if this resonates for you in any way whatsoever, or if you have any comments that you’d like to share.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/bies/107729240/”>bies</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Mark Warner Mum

I probably don’t have enough followers or traffic on Twitter, but as they say…you have to be in it to win it. So here is my entry to become a Mark Warner Mum, which coincidentally would be one of my absolute dream jobs (just saying!).

So why me, why should I get to be a Mark Warner Mum, what makes me good enough compared to all the other mummy and daddy bloggers out there, and why on earth do I want to get away from good old blighty?

Good questions. Well, let me start by saying that the last time I left this glorious country was 17 months ago. That both looks and sounds like a long time. Especially for someone who is used to having at least two holidays a year. So why the hiatus? Well, we decided to skip our annual jaunts when we found that I was expecting our darling daughter. We were tempted to take a baby-moon, but it never transpired, and so pretty much since the little lady arrived five months ago we’ve been talking and talking and talking some more about taking a family holiday. Some time soon. Very soon. We just don’t know exactly when or where. There are so many unknowns in this new world of holidays – should we go short or long-haul, what age should the little lady be before we take her on a plane, what kind of temperature will be ok for her. So many options, so many variables. The only thing we are sure of at this point is that we need to go somewhere that is family centric, family orientated and family catered for. A Mark Warner holiday would therefore a perfect and obvious choice.

I have always had such an affinity for travelling, and over the years my travels have evolved with me. From the family holidays on the continent when I was young, to girls holidays in Europe, far-flung couples holidays and exotic dream destinations with my husband. I have collected memories and taken many a photo to capture them – from the sand dunes of Dubai to the Great Wall of China, the natural beauty of Mauritius, Bali and the Seychelles to the twinkling, bright lights of Hong Kong. But however nostalgic these photos make us feel, it feels like they are missing a very important little person from them. I knew the time would come when I would have my own family, and have had many a day-dream about what that would be like. To paint the picture for you, it always featured us being somewhere warm, by a pool, with a little girl or boy splashing and giggling delightedly as my husband and I playfully encouraged and laughed with them. Family outings to crazy golf and delicious meals at local restaurants. As I have gotten older and become a more seasoned and admittedly spoilt traveller, that day-dream has evolved to one which also happens to be in a four or five star hotel with some of the lovely perks and touches of luxury that go with it. But despite this, it has always remained a simple, relaxed, perfect and unique family holiday reminiscent of my childhood holidays. I would love to be able to recreate the feelings that family holidays used to give me for my little lady. Which is exactly why I think I would make a good Mark Warner Mum. Because their philosophy and range of locations perfectly compliment what I want to achieve from holidays for my daughter.

As a new mummy blogger I want to capture all our exciting and new experiences and adventures, and with our first family holiday imminent I can’t think of a reason why it should not be with Mark Warner.

BaliHong Kong

SeychellesBeijing

DubaiBruges