Hello! It's Dannii here and I am back from maternity leave. I hope you have enjoyed Dave's 4 month takeover and all the delicious recipes he has been sharing. Don't worry, he isn't totally disappearing, just focusing on more of the behind-the-scenes stuff.
The past 4 months with our daughter, Avery, have been incredible as well as challenging at times. It has been so much fun though and it's been great to take that time away from blogging full-time (as that's my job), to focus on Avery. Not everyday is fun and sometimes it's just trying to get through the day (I am sure other parents can relate).
I thought a nice way to ease myself back in to blogging would be to share some of the things that Avery and I have been up to whilst on maternity leave - sort of like a "day in the life post", but for 4 months rather than one day. I would like to say it's not all play groups and coffee and cake, but it pretty much is.
Before Avery arrived we went in an NCT course to learn everything we needed to about birth and babies. Whilst most of the stuff we learnt we could have easily googled, the real advantage of these courses are the people you meet. I met so many lovely ladies who all had babies around the same time as me and we regularly go to baby groups together. Having that time to speak to people who are experiencing the same things are you can really lift your mood.
Avery loves play group and I love it because she gets to play with all these different toys that I don't have to spend loads of money on. Don't get me wrong, she has a ton of stuff at home, but she gets to play with even more stuff at play groups.
It's not all about playing. We go to a sensory group that although it is fun and playing, it is key to helping her develop her senses. There are so many different things to do in the group that I would never think to do at home, so it's definitely worth the money.
We have stared swimming lessons too, as that is something I was keen to do as early as possible. We started them when Avery was 10 weeks old and although she hated the first couple of lessons and screamed the whole way through, she is starting to enough it a lot more and is becoming more confident in the water. I think I am the one that is more scared that she is now.
I have heard of some people that don't leave the house for the first 12 weeks with their babies and whilst that is fine if that works for them, I would go crazy. We were out for a walk on day 3 and that fresh air is important for mum and baby - just wrap up warm. We have been going on plenty of walks out in the countryside and getting that all important vitamin D.
With not having to think about work constantly, it's been nice to just relax (when we can) and go out to lunch or just for a coffee (that's where the cake comes in to it). Eating out with a baby is a totally different ball game. You have to find places that are accessible with a buggy, that have changing facilities, and I like to go to places where there are lots of other babies, as you don't get judgemental looks when your baby has a total meltdown.
We did get to go on our first baby free date the other day and it was very much needed. We were visiting my family and we left Avery with my mum for the evening. Of course it was hard leaving her, but she had a great time with her Nanny. That's been another great thing about maternity leave - more time to visit family.
Nanny introducing Avery to the chocolate tin. No, she didn't have any.
I'm not going to lie, my eating has been all over the place the past few months. Having a newborn baby really sucks the energy out of you (under-statement of the year) and that mid afternoon sugar rush just calls your name and you never feel like cooking a meal from scratch. Luckily, we were really sensible before the baby arrived and we batch cooked our favourite meals and portioned them out to keep in the freezer. It's not an over exaggeration to say that these have been a lifesaver for when we are exhausted and hungry.
What has also been a lifesaver is our new American style fridge freezer. A few weeks before Avery arrived, we took delivery of a Lec AFF90185W and it has made our life so much easier. Before, we just had a tiny freezer space at the top of our barely functioning fridge that seemed to either freeze things or be too hot, depending on its mood. It was time for an upgrade and this has everything we need. It is large, so not for a tiny kitchen, but it has enough space for you to stock up on food in one big shop, rather than only having enough space for a few bits and having to go shopping every day - that was the main advantage for us.
The Lec AFF90185W really is a great fridge-freezer. At over 6 feet in height and with a side by side arrangement it means that everything is on display when one of the doors is opened. It is CFC and HFC free and in the event of a power cut, food is safe for up to 7 hours. The 602 litre capacity is totally frost-free and there is a dual control thermostat to let you customise exactly what temperature you want the fridge and freezer compartments to be as well as a lock to keep it at those temperatures.
With plenty of shelves, two fridge drawers and three freezer drawers (as well as integrated ice cube trays, there is ample storage within the fridge and freezer as well as the door shelves too. Both the fridge and freezer compartments are lit by internal Eco LED lights, which illuminate with a cool, crisp glow, showing everything that is stored. The appliance has an A+ energy rating, recommended by the Energy Saving Trust, which can considerably cut energy bills and look after the environment too.
Another great function is the door alarm. If the door is open for too long, it starts beeping at you. Initially we were really annoyed at this, especially when putting the shopping away after a big shop. But once we realised that it's to stop kids leaving the fridge and freezer open, we realised that would come in very handy in the future. We will have this fridge freezer for years to come, as it really is excellent quality.
Every Sunday we batch cook 2-3 meals and keep some in the fridge for the next couple of days and put the rest in the freezer. Having enough space from our new fridge freezer makes this possible and really makes our lives so much easier, whilst still ensuring we are having some healthy meals. Now Avery is a little bit older and can entertain herself a bit more, that means that convenience foods aren't needed as much and I can spend some more time in the kitchen - so that means more recipes for your guys and there will be more about our wondering fridge freezer soon!
The blog hasn't been totally out of mind whilst I have been away and I have been thinking of some new recipes to share with you all. We also have some very exciting blog related news to share with you soon, so watch this space.
We have all really enjoyed the past few months of visiting art galleries, shopping days out and generally just taking the time to do the things we want as a family, but I have also missed being creative. Now I am back from maternity leave, I can't wait to throw myself back in to blogging and show you all the things I have been coming up with. We are working with some great brands over the coming months and we are already looking forward to BBQ season.
Let’s stay in touch!
**We were provided a fridge by LEC to review, however all opinions are our own.**