#AD, the How, What and Why?

I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for a while, but with Christmas just over a week away and Ads popping up all over social media, I thought now is definitely the time to do it! Now, I don’t feel as though I need to justify why I take on paid work, so thats not why I’m writing this, but I do feel the need to be transparent to people that choose to follow me and my family is important. So here it is…

I first started paid work through my instagram only a few months ago, I have always moaned about people that post ads which have no relevance to their feeds whatsoever, or advertising something that we all know they don’t really use *cough Tommee Tippee machine for a 4 year old, cough* but I mean, whatever, if thats what people want to do for money, its up to them and I know where that unfollow button is…for sure. However, thats not how I want to make money and I will ALWAYS only ever take on something that I love and that I would buy anyway, or items that I love, but cant necessarily afford to buy. When an opportunity comes my way that fits with my morals and values, and its something that I feel happy to advertise, I’m gonna grab it.

The decision to monetise my social media, came after a suggestion from a friend I’ve made via instagram. I thought, I put so much effort into some of my shots, getting paid to do something I love would be a massive bonus, and it is, but at the moment I wouldn’t be able to rely on it for an income. It’s purely to buy my kids and I nice things, and its come in really handy this Christmas as (and I have no shame in admitting this) money has been tight since we have been forced to live apart for the past 6 months.

My first “job” was with VTech. it was kind of a unique one as we got invited to go to a launch event for it in London too, so the fee covered our travel expenses, the time for us being there and to post the image. I LOVED IT! It was a fab experience for the girls, we had a day out and got paid to post a photo which took me all of an hour to shoot and edit.

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My paid work has come from various agencies, one I like in particular is Takumi. It’s an app on your phone, and most jobs include the product. So you get the invite, you can read the brief, make sure you can complete the job within the time scale given, and if you want to accept it you can, or you decline it, I’ve actually declined a lot of invites, but thankfully you aren’t penalised for doing this. You are then sent the product, shoot it, and submit for approval so it fits in line with the brief you are given. The captions are all your own words, you just need to mention certain things and include the hashtags they would like you to use. This is to keep it natural and non-salesy, and engaging with your followers.

Another app I like is Tribe. With this one its a little different as the campaigns all come up as a list, you go and buy the item (sometimes they ask you to submit something similar to what you would if you had the product and if they’re happy and want to go ahead they will then send the product to you). When you submit the post you determine how much money you would like to be paid. The company then reviews your submission, then they can approve it or decline it, or ask you to change a few things so they can review it before they go ahead. I’ve taken a few more jobs from this platform lately, but it can be a bit annoying if you go out, buy the product and then have it declined so I only usually do it if I’m going to buy it anyway, if its something free (like the Canon creative park) or if you can submit something similar to what you would and they send the sample for you after (Omlet dog crate is a good example of this).

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There are lots more influencer agencies available, but these are the main ones that I seek out paid jobs with. You do need to keep in mind that some will only take you on if you have over a certain amount of followers and if your engagement is good. Theres no use taking on a job, posting then not engaging with the people commenting on it. The brands you work with will follow the progress of posts and I always think the more effort I put in, the more likely that brand will work with me again in the future. Some brands actually ask for insights (all the info about how many people have commented/clicked/liked your post) to see how well its performed. This is why I recently switched my profile from a personal to a business account to enable this particular feature.

Sometimes, the opportunities come to you. Weareinfluencernetwork messaged me on instagram about a campaign that was coming up and we had a discussion about fees etc before I proceeded with working on their campaign. At first it can make you a bit nervous but it really is a business negotiation so you need to take the emotion out of it. The worst they can say is no!

So I’m sure you are all wondering just how much can you get paid? If you start off with 1% of your following thats usually the average for one photo post. So mine at the moment standing at around 6.7k followers would be £67. However, if I am negotiating the fees I will always ask for more if I need to go buy the product. If the post is a video post, you can look at double that figure. Stories will be lower because they only last for 24 hours, a recent campaign gave me £130 for one feed post, one story, and I got given a £50 gift voucher to purchase the product. Each brand is slightly different but the 1% figure is always a good starting point. But one thing you shouldn’t do is undersell yourself. It does take time, planning and effort on your behalf, the big brands are saving a massive amount of money on advertising by using influencers across social media, so don’t be afraid to up that price a little more if you are going to create a good quality post.

I think thats pretty much everything I need to cover at the moment…if you have any questions either leave me a comment or DM me on my instagram @that.twin.mother.

And remember, if you see an ad from someone you love following, give it a like and a comment. I’m sure you all would go mental if you saw me on TV advertising some fucking Iceland food in a sequinned dress screaming “Thats why mums go to Iceland!” so go wild for those instagram posts too. I feel proud of what I’ve done so far, and every comment, like and DM supporting me means the world. So thank you!

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All I want for Christmas, is no obligation.

 

Christmas Time Decorations Still Life, candle, christmas lights, christmas setting, christmas sweets

Ahh its Christmas, time to drink mulled cider (yes it is just a classy as wine), decorate our trees, plan our Christmas dinners, binge on quality street and buy a never ending list of gifts for family we hardly ever see.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, and I like to visit them, and would like them to visit me. But for a huge percentage of our family, we’ve barely had any physical visits in a year and a couple of them have only seen Etti and Roux in the flesh twice. So why the fuck do I need to go to the effort to gift them all?!

The beginning of this for me started over a year ago, I was heavily pregnant, Greg was out of the country for 4 months and only my very closest relatives made the effort to come to see me. My 30th birthday was spent sobbing on the sofa because 99% of people in my family didn’t bother. No cards, no gifts, just a shit text that was probably copied and pasted from last years message. No special occasion, nothing. And I sat there and cried and cried for DAYS. Yes, there were hormones involved but honestly the main feeling I had was resentment towards them all.

I hated that I was ALWAYS the mug that put in so much thought into a gift, it made me cry to watch them receive it. (I swear I dont cry as much as this post is making out, I just, you know, have a heart.) I would always purchase something even if I couldn’t afford to, and I despised the fact that I lived away from them all and had to either post their gift or take it a bit late.

So last Christmas I made a stand. I wasn’t going to buy anyone a gift that didn’t make an effort for my 30th Birthday. I wanted them all to feel the way I did that day, honestly, ask Greg, even now I get upset when I think of how I felt, (I know, I know, man the fuck up Amy) and you know what, this is gonna make me sound like an absolute knob but I FUCKING LOVED seeing their faces when they realised they weren’t getting a gift from me. I bloody loved it *Mwahahahaa*.

This year, however, isn’t about revenge, resentment or because no one brought me a gift. No, no, no, this year is about the realisation that we DON’T HAVE TO GIFT EVERY ONE THATS RELATED TO US BY BLOOD/MARRIAGE/ILLEGITIMATE AFFAIRS. And even better, we don’t need to feel guilty about it. 

My mum would tell you that “Christmas is all about the kids”. Erm, no mother, Christmas existed in that 10 year window between me becoming an adult and having my own children, so I would argue that it is about showing appreciation to those that you love and is an opportunity to come together and celebrate that love and time as a family. (Obviously if you are religious you will say its something to do with some dude called Jesus and his constant pushiness to celebrate his birthday…but then he has two doesn’t he? So, move over Jeez).

Christmas is stretched as it is, we’ve been forcefully living apart for almost 6 months so we’ve been paying for two lifestyles throughout the week, then the weekends money just flies away from our hands so quick it was like it never actually there in the first place. Because I’ve been run off my feet keeping the house together, dealing with four kids 4 years old and under with all the tantrums, illness and zero sleep, and then running my business all without Greg, I feel super unorganised. Sadly, this means that presents that could have been purchased bit by bit over the months, just didn’t materialise.

So thinking of spending over £100 on nieces and nephews we hardly see isn’t appealing. In. The. Slightest.

But why do we feel guilty about this? Why do we feel obligated to purchase a physical gift to people we hardly see? For me, it’s about wanting people to be pleased with me, a seeking of approval or something weird and fucked up and I never really thought about it until the last couple of months when something just clicked. I think my mum was mortified when I told her my plans, but to be honest, I’m sick to the back teeth of trying to please people. I’m not a people pleaser, and I could kick myself for wasting so much time worrying about it in the past. All that matters is the ones that are close to me are happy. That’s it. That’s all we strive for as parents, to make sure our children are healthy and happy, so why does that have to change just because its Christmas?

When you take the feeling about this whole situation, giving to people that you just feel obligated to give to, it really makes no sense, and is just fucking stupid.

Say you decide to spend £20 on someone, they decide to spend £20 on you. What do you have? You receive a gift that you maybe you like, but you don’t love it, and you’ve given them a gift, which you wish you’d kept for yourself, because you spent so long thinking of something to buy for them you just resigned to buying something you love which they might like. You should’ve saved your cash and gone and brought that gift for your fucking self. You deserve it after all that faff. Add to that the time you’ve spent wrapping it, the contribution to the plastic waste crisis we have, and the energy expended driving/posting the gift. You’re both running at a loss, Everyone’s a bloody loser. Yes, I know, I’m a genius.

Keep that twenty in your pocket and invest it in those that you really love, those that spend time with you, want to be with you and you feel the same in return. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift, it doesn’t even need to be physical. You could spend it on an experience, plan a day out together, get loads of wine in and just get totally fucked up, whatever you do, only gift someone because you want to not because you feel you should.

Save your cash, save your energy, save the world.

Merry Christmas,

The Grinch x

 

 

 

 

Little Tikes Trike Review

When Mila and Iris turned one, the first thing I wanted to buy them was a trike. Money was tight however, so because we had to buy two we went for these cheap ass ones from amazon. They arrived, I painfully put them together and went for our first outing on them. They were HORRIFIC!

I couldn’t steer them, they felt like they were going to fall apart (totally quality issues and NOT my assembling skills) and they were so freaking loud to push along I’m pretty sure environmental health would have been on my case if we had kept them.

We went straight home and I quickly threw them back in the battered boxes in which they arrived, and shipped them back off to the dark dingy corner of the amazon warehouse that they came from.

So when we were invited to take part in the Little Tikes Tour De Trike campaign for Etti and Roux I jumped at the chance. Our trike arrived and it was a lovely teal colour, perfect for both Etti and Roux. Immediately I noticed the quality compared to those crappy amazon ones, the metal frame work was really sturdy, and although the babies and the girls meddling slowed down my usually speedy assembling, the instructions were really easy to follow and it was up and ready to go in no time!

The girls kept asking me if they could have a go, and I was soooooo happy to see that this particular trike goes up to age 5 from 9 Months so the girls can have a go on it too when we take off the parent handle, the seat bars and enable the pedals! I’m forever telling the girls to get off the babies toys so you can imagine the glee in their little faces when I told them they could actually try it out.

The first outing with the babies was so much fun, they loved being able to see more than they usually see in their prams, and were shaded from the sun with the little shade canopy.

 

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Our pram is a pain the bottom to put in our car, we have to take the wheels off, fold it down, balance the two seat units a certain way and they have to be in there just right, secured by a bungy cord (I know ridulous right?) otherwise the boot door will stubbornly refuse to close. When we went out with the trike while I snapped some photos Greg had one baby in the carrier on his back, and pushed the other in the trike. It’s the perfect way to get out for a lovely walk in our area without having to take the huge double pram, and we will definitely be trying it when we go out and about further afield, as the trike takes up much less space in the boot of the car too!

One massive bonus is that its SILENT! You can’t hear us coming from miles away and the babies can actually hear me talking to them while we walk rather than being deafened by the sound of hollow plastic against the pavement! I also love the little add ons of the tray for the babies, and a tray for the parent to hold drinks, snacks and phones! Theres even a little area behind the seat at the bottom which is a great camera holder. See something for everything!

So far we have only explored locally where we live, but I’m really looking forward to getting out and about further afield and adding more places to our Tour De Trike adventures! Keep an eye on my instagram feed to see more content.

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Keeping up appearances

A couple of weeks ago I saw a post on Facebook by the lovely Giovanna Fletcher. In this post she had no makeup on, which is pretty standard I’d say for her, but when I read the caption she had said that a stranger online had commented on her appearance, saying “she looked a bit of a mess”. Errrr you fuckin what? She honestly didn’t seem that bothered by it, but it just shocked me that someone could be so blunt and cruel to someone they didn’t even know.

©️Giovanna Fletcher

I loved her response to it, and it led me to think more about how I present myself, and how others may perceive me.

It’s very rare that I leave the house without makeup on. That’s not because I feel like I have to, it’s because I want to. Makeup has always been a fun thing to do for me.

I admit it’s slightly addictive, I spend way to much money trying to find the right foundation, but you only live once and in the words of Dua Lipa IDGAF.

Every time I go on the nursery run I get a comment from at least one of the mums about how they don’t understand where i get the time to do my hair and makeup. I’ve always thought they were harmless, but when I sit back and really think about it, are they being nice or were they actually being judgemental pricks?

Do they actually think I don’t do any of the getting ready in the morning and leave it to my husband? Do they assume I leave my kids to scream while I happily plaster my face with numerous layers of concealer, bronzer and enough highlighter to make a blind man wince?

If I let myself sit and toy with the idea that people could be judging me for wearing too much makeup, I’d probably drive myself crazy. So what should we do? Not wear it?

There’s only been a handful of times that I’ve done the nursery run or gone to the supermarket with the bare naked face my mumma gave me. It’s only an occurrence when I’m ill, so tired I can’t even pick things up, or this awful time when a doctor told me to not wear makeup for 3 weeks because I was actually allergic to my new Mac Foundation. (Worst. Day. Ever.)

It’s actually quite rare I don’t wear makeup even when I’m staying in for the day, it’s part of my morning ritual. When I don’t wear makeup it just doesn’t feel right. Not because I’m self conscious, not because I feel ugly, or I feel like others are judging me, but because I just don’t feel like me. I’ve played with makeup for so long it’s part of who I am now, that’s not a bad thing, and it certainly doesn’t make me a bad Mum because I take 30 minutes out of my day to do it.

Mila and Iris have already taken a massive interest in my makeup, annoyingly so. Not because I don’t want them to be interested, but because they keep touching all my high end shit and I just can’t handle the daily heart attacks when they drop my eyeshadow pallette or dent my lipstick (yes I am that anal).

If they feel like they want to be creative and paint their face the way I do, I will support it 100%. I know in my heart they will always know they’re beautiful with or without it, because I tell them all the time. Yes there is a time and a place for kids to wear makeup, and I won’t be letting them pinch my foundation anytime soon, but if they want to wear purple eyeshadow, noddy-esque blusher, and bubblegum pink lipstick while we play in the house, who the fuck am I to stop them?

Mila rocking the “is it purple or is it a bruise” eye makeup.

See the point is, whether we slap it all on 5cms deep, or leave our faces barer than a baboons arse, it isn’t anyone else’s business. They can do them, and leave us to do us. Judgmental people exist everywhere, in every aspect of life we can be judged, preached to, or bitched about.

Unfortunately as vulnerable as we are in motherhood it seems to attract knobby know it alls and brings all the judgey-mcjudgersons out of their dark little judgey holes.

But whether we choose to give them the time of day and listen to their cruel words and digs or stick the middle finger up to them and say fuck you is up to us.

I know what I will do!

Survival kit for the first 6 Months

Having twins isn’t easy, in fact it’s so bloody hard I don’t know how people with triplets or more cope on a day to day basis, I literally claw my way through bedtime and look like the stig of the dump once all 4 kids are asleep.

We have however bought some products that have made our life that little bit easier. So I thought I’d share them with you!

The Babybay Maxi co sleeping crib

This crib literally was amazing, it made breastfeeding so much easier I could literally just roll over flop a boob out and feed instantly. The only issue we had with this was that once we removed it from the side of the bed and I changed to bottle feeding (when breastfeeding became so painful I would rather jump into a pool of hangry piranhas) they seemed to have less space with the side bar on, so it didn’t last them as long as it could have! But, I don’t regret buying it at all.

Love to Dream Swaddle Up

These swaddle bags are A-MAZE-ING. They’re hip safe with room to move their legs, and with the arms in the air give babies the ability to chew on their hands for comfort and to regulate their temperatures better (as opposed to having them swaddled down on their chest). There’s also a little pocket on the back that you can use to check for stinky bums. Now seriously, if you don’t buy these you will totally regret it, I genuinely believe they helped the babies to sleep. When I attempted to put them down with out the (because they had puked all over themselves) they never settled well and it would take bloody ages to get them down.

They’re super soft and just lovely, I purchased mine from one of their U.K. stockists Natural Baby Shower and I’m pretty sure they had a new customer sign up code to use for a little bit of discount too!

They also make 50/50 transitional sleep bags where you can take the sleeves off and these really cute sleepbag/sleepsuit type things which look awesome and I’ll definitely be buying them for next winter!

Ewan The Dream Sheep

Ewan was one of the items that I wanted to try with the girls, but left it too late. I’m so glad that this time I was actually organised and purchased one before the babies were born. We use it on the heartbeat mode (there’s 4 different ones you can try) and the soothing sound and red light actually works, we still use it every single day now. It even helped me get to sleep when the babies were in our bedroom!

Baby Bath Sponges

I had these with the girls and had to buy them again because I found them great! they’re basically big old sponges that are in the shape of the baby which they lay on in the bath, it’s a really good way of keeping them safe and comfy in the bath without them swirling and slipping around like a giant fleshy fish, and gives you full ability to clean all over (something I struggled with when using seats!).

I got mine from Amazon for like £8 each which is an absolute bargain and we have only just stopped using them (although they have been half hanging off them for a while!)

Hevea Pacifiers

I just knew that Etti would be the one that took comfort in a dummy/pacifier. We first tried the Mam ones because we use their bottles, but they’re so fiddly and don’t have a handle so every time she batted it out of my hand as I tried to pop it in her mouth it would go flying and I always struggled to pick it up with my long nails (first world problems). When I saw the cute natural rubber pacifiers on Instagram, I had a little look online to see what I could find in the U.K. I came across Hevea and instantly fell in love with the designs, I chose the moon and star one, but there’s also little ducks, crowns and flowers too so something for everyone. I love the fact they contain no plastic and are manufactured with the planet in mind! They’re super easy to clean (just wash with soapy water and pop in some boiling water) and have a nice big handle on them so I can easily pop it back in her mouth if she drops it (she’s just learning to do it herself now too… winning!). I need to get the next size up soon and will 100% be buying Hevea again. Oh and if you are a judgey-mc-judgerson and don’t like or agree with dummies, I’ll just leave my babies with you for 24 hours and I guarantee when both of them are screaming and you don’t know what to do first… you will reach for that dummy. I put my life on it! P.S stop being judgey anyway, it’s not nice.

Lilcubs Muslins

We entered a rep search run by the lovely Tabitha at Lilcubs via Instagram and I’m so glad we did! As well as her being the most generous and kindest lady ever, we have got to try all of her range of giant muslins, sleepsuits and dribble bibs. The muslins have literally been a lifesaver! They are so big they will mop up even the largest puddles of sick, make great emergency playmats/changing mats, and also work great as swaddles too. They come in all different colours, are playful and fun, and I always get complimented on them when I whip one out of my change bag. They’re amazing, as are her other products (very reasonably priced too!) and I urge you to check them out. I’m really excited to see what’s up her sleeve for the next year too.

Matchstick Monkey Teethers

The babies I’m sure have been teething for like a lifetime, yet still no tooth has made an appearance. They’re slow burners I think! But in the meantime I reckon I’ve spent a bloody fortune on teethers! I’ve tried Tesco’s, blossom and bear, and nuby amongst others I’ve even brought pretty handmade ones in the hope that they will be practical as well as gorgeous. Each one has has its 5 mins then been binned because the babies just won’t take to it, one word: Ungrateful. I had seen matchstick monkeys but thought they would be another 5 minute wonder, but when I was approached to try them for free…I jumped at the chance. And blow me down, they’ve become their absolute faves! I think it’s because they don’t have to be held in a specific way to do their job. It can be chewed anywhere, but what I love about it the most is that behind its little head are some soft rubbery bristles which, wait for it, makes it a training toothbrush! How cool is that? You can clean them easily by chucking them in the dishwasher, come in loads of cute colours and you can hook them onto things too. I just love them, and I think the babies really do too, they’re the only teethers that have made it beyond 24 hours and they’re going strong! We also got to try matchstick monkey swaddle muslins with a little teether corner, also a hit, and their rattle soft toys too which are firmly attached to the pram to entertain the babies on the nursery run. If you haven’t come across them definitely take a look.

So that’s the end of my recommendations, If you have found something to be invaluable for the first 6 months let me know below or on my Instagram post! Go check all of these guys out, you won’t be disappointed, in addition to these just stock up on wine, chocolate, teabags, and cute baby clothes and you will be alright!

Review – Fifi and Friends Baby and Toddler products

I’m always looking for natural products when it comes to skincare for myself and for the kids too. When the girls were babies I literally had Johnson’s baby products thrown at me. Personally I found they were really drying on the skin, and so full of perfume they were overpowering. Iris now has particularly dry patches on her arms and her legs, so this time around I’ve avoided them like the plague (Soz if you’re a Johnson’s fan… actually no I’m not).

I’ve tried a few different brands of baby washes and skincare, all of which have been satisfactory, but since watching Tamara Ecclestone’s “Tamaras world” on ITV and discovering that she founded the baby and toddler brand Fifi and Friends I’ve been desperate to try it!

The Buying Process

The website is lush, easy to use and so cute! when I was browsing the products there is loooooads of information about the ingredients so I knew I was buying from an honest company. And to my surprise a little pop up popped up (obviously) and offered me a 10% discount code to use. Bonus!

I chose to order the Super soft Baby Lotion £9 and the Super soft Baby wash at £8. The cold weather has made the babies skin a little drier than usual so I was hoping the super softness of these products would get those little chunks back to soft little cherubs again. To be honest I could have chucked it all in my basket but I didn’t want to be lumbered with stuff that didn’t agree with the babies skin or be threatened with a divorce when Greg found out how much the postie was delivering!

When I got to checkout I was chuffed to bits to find that giftwrap was FREE! I bloody love opening something special so even though it was for my own babies I checked the fuck out of that box!

And THEN… once I had applied the discount code which took my total from £17 to £15.30, but because it was over £15 standard shipping was FREEEEEEE! Literally over the bloody moon, you know how much hatred I have against postage charges! I checked out ASAP just incase they suddenly changed their minds!

The Products

Considering delivery was free, it arrived in a matter of a couple of days. When I opened up the box I was so delighted to see the gift wrap, it literally felt better than my birthday. A cute little green bow wrapped around a gorgeous little box (I love boxes) and inside was tissue paper, on a little bed of that straw material. Super. Cute. If I had a mini pig he could have slept in it and been super comfy. To delight me further they had chucked in a little sample of the rescue lotion too! SO spoilt!

The bottles are HUGE! I wasn’t expecting them to be so big so you have lots of product to keep you going, much needed with two little humans to keep clean and soft! They’re 250mls if you’re wondering.

When I opened the lids to smell, I don’t really know what I was expecting… but I couldn’t really smell much at all (maybe my nostrils aren’t working since I gave birth?! They fucked the rest of my body so it’s probable). There was a little hint of aloe that I got but actually, I prefer the light smell, it means I can still smell the natural scent of my babies (is that weird?).

Because the products have no sulphates, it doesn’t foam up as much as your usual body wash, however it’s enough and feels so silky when you’re washing the little ones. And although I found it annoying at first, the bottles only let out a little bit of product but you literally need the smallest amount and it goes so far so it’s actually a good design feature! For instance the body lotion, I squeezed out a little more than a pea size amount, that was enough for Roux’s (the absolute unit of a baby) ENTIRE BODY! I literally love it when I’ve only got to replace something every once in a while, one because it’s convenient, and two because I’m skint most of the time!

The Verdict

I really really like the products. I wouldn’t say the babies skin is any softer than they were (I mean you cant get much softer than a babies tushy can you?!) but it’s definitely sorted out the dryness that I think the cold weather has caused! The whole experience of purchasing and opening such a delightful package really helped, but after using the body wash and lotion for almost 2 weeks now I can safely say Fifi and Friends are definitely one to try if you are into your natural products.

Some Tips

Always always carry out a patch test before you try a new skincare product. The rescue balm actually reacted on Mila and Iris’ skin, and stupidly I just rubbed it over their entire faces (cue tomato heads) but it was totally my own fault because I didn’t realise one ingredient they are actually allergic to. Idiot! After that I carried out patch tests on the babies because I really didn’t want to risk having two babies looking like naked lobsters! Luckily there was no reaction from them so I was able to dive right in with the aloe goodness and smother them in the stuff!

Don’t waste product! Seriously this stuff will last you ages because such a little amount goes a long way. Just do one little squeeze and that is all you need.

Pat don’t rub! When drying your baby make sure you pat dry, rubbing can damage their delicate skin. Also remember to get in the creases, there’s nothing worse than cheesy baby wrinkles. And they can get sore so so fast, so be on crease patrol at all times.

Enjoy it! Bath time can be stressful, if anyone knows that I do. Just take your time and make it fun for you and baby because it will pay off in the long run when your babies grow older and absolutely love to get in the tub, empty it entirely of water and ruin any bathroom flooring you ever care to put down!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this review! It’s completely honest (you know me) and I’d never tell anyone to buy something I didn’t like myself. But I like Fifi and Friends… so go buy it!

If there’s anything else you would like me to review (within reason obviously) leave your suggestions in the comments!

My shop small gripes

As a small business owner myself, instagram is a mahoosive selling tool for me, 90% of my customers come via my Instagram page, it’s been a learning curve for sure, and whilst I’ve been on maternity leave I have been noting ideas on how to increase my following and number of sales to really make it work when I return.

Also while on maternity leave it seems I’ve become a bit of a shopping addict (who knew?!) and a number of items I’ve purchased have been from fellow small businesses, just like mine. But you know what? A number of things about shopping small (specifically via Instagram) really piss me off and totally put me off buying, so I thought I’d get it off my chest, as I do.

DM me babe

I see a cute item, there’s no price… there’s also no link in the bio.. I ask how much is this gorgeous item? Seller replies “DM me babe”. This is an immediate red flag for me. Firstly, I’m not your fucking babe, I’m a potential customer with money burning in my pocket. Secondly, why the secrecy?! I’m not asking for your STI test results love, so just reply to my comment in front of everyone so that other potential customers can see, that way you’re not only doing me a favour you’re doing 5 other people a favour too by not having to ask you! Unless you are giving people different prices there’s no need to have a private conversation about how much an item costs. Why not just be clear and transparent? Be a window, not a door. Knob.

ITS IN THE POST BABE.

I REALLY hate chasing orders, it makes me feel uneasy and awkward (is this a British thing?) when really it should be completely ok for me to ask where my order is that I paid for 5 weeks ago and not feel like I’ve just asked you for a nude photo. I get handmade items are time consuming, but if there’s a hiccup and you can’t post when you said you would, own up! Don’t fucking tell me that my item is in the post, when it clearly is not. I’m pretty sure 95% of the population know how long a 1st class parcel takes to reach them, and I can tell you it’s certainly not 10 days, unless Royal Mail have well and truly fucked up, or it’s Christmas… admittedly they’re sometimes shit at Christmas so I’ll let you off if it’s around the busy period.

RIP OFF POSTAGE

Talking of Royal Mail, I also am very aware of how much postage costs. I’m one of those people that will chuck a load of stuff in my basket totalling £1729397 and I close the window when I see the £3.95 postage cost. Yes I understand pretty packaging, hand tied twine, stamped labels and all that sparkly jazz looks great and I’m totes willing to pay for that wow factor. But when you charge me £3.95 for ONE pair of leggings to be shipped (1st class small parcel is £3.30 FYI) and then it slips through my letterbox as a large letter poly bag with a fucking 95p stamp on it, no glitz, no personal touch, just a grey miserable plastic bag, you bring out the raging monster in me and I will NEVER buy from you again. If I was feeling really feisty I’d send a message to air my complaint, but I’d also be just as tempted to send a steaming shit in a box to the return address!

PUBLIC MOANING

Don’t get me wrong we all have our moany days. I like to see behind the scenes with businesses so there’s a personal touch, I like to know about peoples lives, it’s nice to feel like you know the person that has poured their hard work and love into your handmade item. However I’ve witnessed first hand how Instagram can sometimes become a school playground, so businesses publicly moaning about other businesses really puts me off purchasing from them.

Someone’s copied you? Go direct to them, tell them your concerns and try to resolve it privately, if it’s all innocent they will apologise and you can move on. Don’t put it all over your stories or your page, and even worse don’t moan about someone and then just not name them. I don’t like anonymous moaning, but I do like a bit of gossip, so Sheila, either don’t moan about them full stop or tell us the fucking name and put us out of our misery.

Either way though, I won’t be giving you my money.

I could go on forever and I probably would if my husband wasn’t sat here looking at me with that judgey “you’ve been on you’re phone for so long” look, but I would like to add a last note that 95% of small businesses I have purchased from have been amazing, items are beautifully made and arrive when they say they’re going to, wrapped to perfection and are an absolute joy to open. These types of sellers are what defines “British small businesses” and I will continue to champion them whenever my bank account let’s me!

Routine

One of my top 5 questions I get from people that don’t know me is “how do you cope?”, sometimes I take it as a patronising comment, other days I take it as curiosity, I think it depends what mood I’m in and how much sleep I had the night before. Most of the time I respond with “You don’t have a choice you just get on with it” but really the answer is hard work and a routine!

Lots of people have asked for advice when it comes to twin babies, so I thought I would put what we do into a post so you can take what you wish from it!

Have a thick skin

This is the number one piece of advice if and when you choose to develop a routine with your babies. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how we parent and I used to take comments to heart, but you just have to think “Fuck em” do whatever works for you and don’t let anyone else’s judgements effect you. There are some days when I feel bad that I don’t have a baby on me constantly, I question whether or not I give them enough cuddles. Maybe I should have continued with breast feeding, maybe attachment parenting is the way to go, but realistically, I have to keep my own sanity and give my husband and other children attention too so establishing a good routine was key for us as a family.

Be persistant and consistent

Once you have decided a routine is the way you wish to go, you need to commit to it. I’m not going to lie, it’s stressful! There are times when you just want to give in and hope that they will just do the work themselves but it doesn’t work like that (unless you’re the luckiest fucker in all the land), it takes sacrifice, sweat from running up the stairs a million times a day and I’ll admit some frustrated tears!

You really can’t flap from being a strict routiner to a loose I-go-with-what-my-baby-wants-er, you’re one or the other so choose and stick to it.

Start with bedtime first

Don’t throw yourself in the deep end and do everything in one go. Babies like familiarity but not all at once. We started with a routine around 8 weeks old, at the start we chose to bathe them every night (although we have changed this to every other night now), bath followed with a bottle, in dim light, then they were zipped into their Love to Dream swaddles and Ewan the dream sheep was switched on.

We always put them down when they were sleepy which wasn’t hard as when they’re that young they get sleepy after a bottle anyway. The nighttime routine happened quite naturally for us, and because we had a video monitor in our bedroom I felt assured they were ok so we could have some adult time downstairs (as in watching tv and eating…you filthy filthy animal).

A few weeks later once the nighttime routine was running smoothly, we decided to introduce a nap in the middle of the day.

This was slightly (very fucking) harder. In order for them to be inclined to sleep I used the same things from nighttime, the only difference was that there was no bath. So after their midday feed, I would pop them in their crib, swaddles on, and Ewan playing his little heartbeat tune. It took a lot of running upstairs, back downstairs, sitting outside the door, top ups of milk and some cuddles but in the end they just got it. Every time they cried we went in, had a sniff to make sure they hadn’t pooped and gave a little cuddle, tap of the bottom and back in they went. I think it probably took a good week for them to start sleeping for a block of time but they got it and with my persistence (and patience) it worked.

Now they sleep for 2.5-3 hours and they have a little catnap in the morning while I’m getting ready or on the nursery run in the pram. Having that block of time in the day is fab as it allows me to have lunch with the girls without a baby clinging onto me and I get to spend time with them doing something nice, or catch up on the Kardashian’s (do not judge… although even if you do I wouldn’t give a shit anyway!).

So our days go a little like this;

– 6/7am babies wake, have first bottle

– Between 9/10 there’s a little catnap squeezed in there.

– 11.30 bottle, napping by 12

– Wake around 2.30/3pm

– Get grizzly around 5.30pm and we then take them up for their bedtime routine to start at 6pm and they’re done by 7 (along with the girls).

It’s a stressful part of the evening but it’s so bloody worth it when you get downstairs to a tidy living room and you can enjoy a hot cup of tea in peace.

We each either do the girls or the babies, the girls will have their bath, brush their teeth get their pjs on and then we read them a book before bed and 95% of the time it runs smoothly. And if Greg is ever working late or away, I will make sure the girls aren’t bathed that night and they just get to chill out in their pjs a little longer til I’ve got the babies in bed.

We went from bathing the babies every night but now we bathe the girls one night, then the babies the next, it takes a bit of stress out of it all and once they’re a bit bigger and can sit up we may even try to squeeze all four in the bath every other night so we can get a night off! (I SO wish we had a bigger bath tub!)

If I am out during the day, I am one of those twatty mums that will go home so my babies can nap. Which makes me highlight point one.. have a thick skin, people will get offended that you don’t want to make plans which suit them and they will have an opinion, but I literally couldn’t care less what people think about it, because when I can sit down and have a hot cuppa and my babies are catching up on some well needed sleep…I’m laughing.

Obviously if we have taken a trip to the beach, or visiting family who live around an hour away we don’t rush back for a nap, but I tell you something…DON’T WE BLOODY KNOW IT. Cue lots of little catnaps, very grumpy babies and lot of me and Greg swearing at each other. Meh.

So, I hope some of you take some inspiration from this, if not, fair dos…it’s totally up to you how you do your routine, or no routine. Some people may think I don’t spend enough time with them, or that I should have them on me or at least next to me constantly. But if I’m totally honest that would drive me fucking crazy and I need my me time (and Greg time… yeah wink wink).

And you know what? When I go upstairs to babies that have just woken up with big beaming smiley faces gurgling away at me, I know I’m doing the right thing, for me, for us, and especially for them.

Be my friend…

This week has been a bit of a downer for me, I have a lot on my mind and I feel like I’m struggling to keep a smile on my face. If I were to go out and walk down the street I guarantee you some twat would say: ‘Smile love it might never happen’. Like what the fuck does that even mean anyway? When I feel like this I tend to withdraw myself from social activities and become a little hermit which I know doesn’t help the matter but I just cant help it.

So…loneliness. I touched on this subject recently with an instagram post and I was really surprised at how many messages I had from people that felt the same. Loneliness is a funny thing (also a shit thing), and people don’t understand that you can be surrounded by many others but actually feel like the only person in the room.

When I had Mila and Iris no one around me had kids of the same age, they were a year older or a year younger, but it didn’t matter because we lived in a place with such a community spirit we were always surrounded by friends and children that adored them. We had our weekly routine consisting of visiting friends for tea and play dates, twice a week we would go to baby group which was fun, us mums and friends would chat, our kids would happily play, you would get the odd brat who would throw a wooden brick at your kids head from time to time but mostly it was harmonious, enjoyable and we were content. I was even happy to sing the shit songs like sleeping bunnies or lions or whatever it is, and wind the bobbin up, pointing to the ceiling and pointing to the door with more enthusiasm than those Channel 5 Milkshake presenters.

As we move regularly due to Gregs job, finding new friends with common interests is fucking hard.

You always go through the same motions, put up a brave post on the local facebook page, meet up with a couple of people who look normal but open their mouths and you know immediately they just aren’t your cup of tea but you grin and bear the awkwardness for at least an hour before you can make a shit excuse and escape. Then you go home deflated to cry to your husband because no one around here is like me, everyone is fucking weird. A couple of weeks later you eventually pluck up the courage to try again, meet someone new, you kinda like them, but they’re absolute flakes and leave you hanging everytime you make plans. You go back to your husband, cry some more. Try one last time to make some friends, suddenly you find one person you click with and cling onto them like a stubborn turd.

And then you’re told you’re moving again.

You can imagine its quite arduous, a cycle we have to go through which is made even harder when you chuck a couple of chubby newborns into the mix. At the moment, no one seems to be on my page, thats not anyones fault, but I feel like I’m missing someone who just gets what I’m going through.

Where we currently live, makes it feel like an absolute mission just to BREATHE. Theres no post office in walking distance, if I want nappies or milk I have to drive to the supermarket, theres no clothes shops for at least a 25 minute drive and theres zero parent and child parking spaces anywhere to be seen in the entire vicinity of Salisbury.

To take the babies to be weighed is in perfect walking distance but I’m not allowed to take the pram in, so I literally have to fucking juggle two little bodies into the room and find somewhere safe to put one down while I undress the other and the staff just stand there and watch asking for them bloody red books.

Then theres the med centre, the med centre has the most awkward receptionist known to man, she thinks she has a phd in medicine but actually has a masters in being a right awkward twatty bitch, so getting an appointment from her is like asking for her to cast my husbands knob in solid gold, impossible.

All of these things seem really small and I could have worse things to complain about, but when you add them to the general awkwardness and difficulty of a day with 2 sets of twins (4 kids under 4, don’t forget that!) it just fucking breaks me.

I just want a bit of ease…all I want to do, is make some friends, easily. I want to walk into a baby group, that is at a convenient time for me and fits into my babies busy schedule of feeding and sleeping, and I want someone to smile at me and want to be my friend.

When I read that back to myself, I feel so embarrassed and desperate to be writing it. I see the friends I’ve left behind moving on with new friends (and some enemies but I won’t hold that against them…) and I just feel so bloody sad. Having the confidence to go out and try to find some people to fill that void at 30 years old is tough going. I know I have to do it, but the thought of stepping into a room full of people who may already have friendships and bonds scares me so much it makes me cry like a baby all over again. This should be easy, I’m normal, I’m witty, kind, and generous…yeah I’m a bit chubby but it doesn’t effect my banter, if anything it enhances it.

IMG_0387

I’ve found myself becoming a bit of a recluse this week and I know its because I’m unhappy. I don’t want to surround myself with people feeling this way, and pretending I’m ok because I’m not. By doing this I’m well aware that I’m just making the situation worse but sometimes I’ve just got to do my own thing before I can get out of the funk and move on.

For once I don’t know the solution to this. Well, thats a lie, I do. I need to throw myself back into social activities, pluck up the energy to find some nice baby groups and find some balls to put myself out there as a good friend candidate…but right now they’re so far up I don’t know if they will ever come back down again. Either way, I need to do something, my babies just don’t quite understand the English language yet and I’m pretty sure my neighbours will start to dislike me if I start stealing their cats for company.

 

Breastfeeding.

It seems as though the bottle vs breast warriors are out in force again on social media, why it always crops up and has to be a war every now and then is beyond me. Nowadays we should be able to feed our babies however we want, we don’t live under a regime where people dictate every move we make, and we all grow into relatively normal human beings, so really, why do we give a fuck so much?

I thought this would be a good time to update you all on my breastfeeding story. I REALLY wanted it to go well this time after what I deemed as an ‘Epic Fail’ with the girls. On reflection I didn’t fail at all, I just struggled, which is totally normal and it’s OK!

This time around however, I was determined to be that woman that fed her babies exclusively with boob until they were at least one. It sounds selfish really but I wanted that imaginary trophy and I wanted my babies to rely solely on me.

We got off to a great start, Roux latched on shortly after birth and he was like a milk monster. He was so strong that he was rough and his determination to feed immediately was a bit of a shock and I was actually taken aback a little. The girls were prem by 6 weeks so I never really experienced that sort of thing with them, they were sleepy and slow, their latch was poor because they hadn’t developed that sucking reflex yet.

Etti was more gentle, she loved the boob once she was on but she was smaller than Roux and I think it took her a little while to get to grips with it.

I spent the first night in hospital where they kept monitoring the babies because their blood sugars were low, some twat from paediatrics told me straight away that if their levels didn’t improve I’d have to give formula. Well what a way to piss me right off hours after pushing two bloody humans out of my vadge. Who the fuck do these people think they are? Telling me I HAVE to feed my babies formula? I stood my ground which I don’t think she expected, and later in the night a midwife told me I was a great mum for standing my ground and giving my baby what was best for them. That made me feel good, and gave me even more determination to prove that bitch in paeds wrong! I did not sleep the ENTIRE night, and because I had expressed loads of colostrum while I was still pregnant, I had a stash, so everytime one of the babies sicked up a little after a feed I was there, with my little store of liquid gold, syringing it into their little mouths whenever they stirred.

By morning, their sugar levels were perfect. Thank fuck for that. I was exhausted and we were told we could go home. At home, those first 3 nights were an absolute blur! I was pumping, feeding straight from the breast, my mum and Greg were taking shifts cuddling the babies whilst I slept in between feeds. Then the health visitor ‘popped in’.

Even though I felt drained and half bloody dead, I also felt bloody good because I was feeding the babies boob and only boob.

Then she weighed them.

They had lost 11 and 14% of their body weights, she told me she had to give the paeds a call to get some advice, then while she waited she decided they looked a little yellow too. Off to the hospital we went for a blood test and another twat from neonatal told us we would have to be readmitted because they needed light therapy for jaundice and their weight loss was too much, fucking great.

No lie, I sobbed like a baby. Once again all of those feelings I had with the girls came flooding back, I felt like an absolute fucking failure, why was it so impossible for me to give them enough of what they need?

A doctor come in and once again told me that I should give them formula. WHY do health professionals do this? They promote breastfeeding so much, and right when your milk is about to come in they decide that your babies are loosing too much weight, their bilirubin levels are too high. Well Sherlock, its probably because you haven’t given it long enough and given a chance for my fucking milk to come in properly!

This specific doctor told me and I quote “I don’t think you will be able to do it, its too much for you to feed two”.

This was when I literally lost my marbles, if I had any in the first place. Hormones raged and I started getting the babies dressed and pushing the phototherapy lights off of them. All i could think was “FUCK this, I’m taking them home. I’m their mum, I can do this. I know best. Tomorrow my milk will come in, I’ll stick them in a window” over and over again in my head whilst hot tears streamed down my face.

The doctor rushed out and brought in some reinforcements in the form of neonatal nurses and told me I couldn’t take the babies home because they were too poorly. Up until this point no one had actually told me this was the case so I stopped dead in my tracks. She started telling me things about them being at risk of brain damage, organ failure and all of this other scary shit. I don’t know to this day if she was telling the truth or actually just tricking a hormone induced maniac into keeping her babies in hospital.

So after a few hours arguing with the doctor, we stayed, and I had cried so much about the entire situation that I had nothing left. No energy, no fight left, I felt broken and exhausted. They told me to go to sleep and that they would give the babies a feed of formula to give me a break. I just closed my eyes and when I woke up I found two nurses holding the babies whilst cup feeding them some formula.

I can’t even explain that heartbreak. To want to feed your babies so much, but feeling useless and watching someone else do it it physically hurt me. It’s kind of like a feeling of grief. They took my job away from me, they ruined my breastfeeding journey. And in those moments I fucking hated all of them.

When I woke again the following morning my energy boost had given me a renewed sense of determination to make this work. I fed them every 3 hours on the dot, tandem fed to try and get my milk going faster and I tried to stay positive so it didn’t effect my supply. We stayed in another 2 nights and by the time we left I threw a big middle finger up the air as when we left they were back exclusively on the breast.

I felt so bloody good, my milk had come through, my babies had put on weight, and even though I was half dead from the lack of sleep I felt like I had really achieved something.

Then once again, things went tits up. The pain started, every time they latched on (Roux especially) I had the most horrifying and toe curling pain I’ve ever felt (bar that crowning moment!) in both of my boobs. I even felt it in my back, and when I started researching I discovered it was something to do with my tendons in my boobs and that it would pass in time…how much time varied from person to person. Add this pain to the sore cracked nipples I had suddenly developed, I begun to dread every feed! I tried everything, breast milk, lanolin, some crazy natural cream made from marshmallow which tasted amazing, and in the end I decided to have a break for a day and start expressing until my nipples started to heal. That break lasted 3 days, and every time I thought about trying to get either of them to latch on, I felt sick with dread.

On the morning of the 4th day expressing, I plucked up the courage to give it a go. I went with Roux because I thought I may as well let hoover mouth do his worst to see if I can cope with it…talk about throwing myself in the deep end. To my absolute surprise, it was completely painless and he fed for a good 15 minutes before dropping off, milk dripping from his little mouth.

I done it, I bloody cracked it, and it was then in that moment I just had this feeling come over me, that I just didn’t want to do it anymore. Just like that I gave up, just when it all worked and I had nothing left to fight. I can’t really explain it, but I just did not want to do it. Throughout those two weeks I had felt bad for Mila and Iris, they weren’t getting the attention from me that they deserved because I was either stuck to a babys mouth or my breast pump. I was sick of smelling like milk, and so fed up of bloody breast pads folding up in my bra and that enjoyment I was supposed to feel of feeding my babies had just disappeared, it wasn’t there but I felt totally OK about it.

As soon as I started feeding them formula, my entire body relaxed. My mind felt clearer and my mood was lighter. I realised that I had been fighting a battle for me, and I hadn’t been thinking about the rest of the family. How you feed your babies is obviously important to your babies primarily, and yes breastmilk is the most amazing thing we can give them, science has proven this over and over. But what do we do when it effects our family life? Our relationships? Our mental health? The pressure we feel to breastfeed these days is immense, you get judgement from either side and to be honest your every move whilst being a mum feels like you cant bloody win no matter what you do.

Unless you just don’t listen to it all.

Block out the judgey mcjudgersons, do what is right for you. Accept if something doesn’t work and move the fuck on. I’m 30 years young and not once in my life has someone dumped me or not wanted to be my friend because I was breast or formula fed. At the end of the day it just doesn’t matter. Us mums should lift each other up at every given opportunity not dig at those that parent differently.

Fed is best. I won’t judge either way…Unless you are blending up a macdonalds happy meal for your 3 month old…don’t do that.