20 Things I've Learned Since Becoming a Mummy

Thursday, 1 December 2016

I've now been a mummy for eight months. Two thirds of a year, I can't believe it!! It might not seem like that long, but I've learned a hell of a lot in a short space of time. Some of these things hit me on day one, sitting there in the hospital with my new precious bundle in my arms. Others I've struggled to learn gradually over time. But one thing's for sure, I'm a lot more wise (and far more tired!) than I've ever been before.

Here's what motherhood's taught me so far:

1. Whoever and whatever you were before is now secondary to what you are now: a mother. This makes you feel a little bit invincible. You might be the most successful female politician since Maggie Thatcher, but when you're asked how you're going to tackle an issue, the first thing that will run through your head will be, "I'M A MOTHER, I'M MORE THAN QUALIFIED TO DO ANYTHING YOU THROW AT ME! BRING IT ON!"

2. Travel, once a pleasurable past time, has become a laborious, tiring and admin-heavy task, which involves lugging your bodyweight in supplies around with you wherever you go. Forget sunbathing with a book; instead this time will be spent struggling to prevent your child from shoveling half the beach into their mouth. You'll need to brush up on your best miming skills to try to locate the item that is vital to your child's existence in a foreign supermarket because you left it at home/on the plane/in a service station's toilets. Then you'll need another holiday to recover from the holiday you've just had as soon as you return home.

3. Sleep, once a pleasurable past time, has become a treat which you enjoy only on very rare occasions, a handful of times a year, when all of the moons in the Milky Way align.

4. Speaking of sleep, back in the day if you were awake at 4 AM you'd usually be found clutching a kebab and high fiving the postman as you totter down the street after an excellent night. Nowadays if you are awake at 4 AM, you can be found pulling your hair out and muttering expletives under your breath after one of the worst nights of your life eveeerrrrr (yes, those sleepless nights also tend to turn you into a bit of a drama queen). The only thing you have in common with your former 4 AM self is the fact that you're so out of it that you can barely remember your own name.

5. You will never visit the toilet alone again.

6. Say goodbye to your memory. You will constantly find yourself turning up to things on the wrong day, and at the wrong time...and sometimes in the wrong place too. But remembering things is so overrated, and forgetting exactly what you're supposed to be doing at any point in time keeps life interesting! Who needs to remember names, faces, shopping lists or their brother's birthday anyway?

7. Sex. See sleep.

8. Boobs are no longer sexy; they're leaking, life-sustaining, achey, weird-looking mammary glands that your teething child abuses on a daily basis. Oh, and these days a supportive bra won't be enough to help them to defy gravity; a forklift truck is required to keep them looking perky.

9. While we're on the subject of feeding, people will judge you if you breastfeed, and if you bottle feed. But then they will also judge you if you send your child to nursery, and if you keep them at home. They will judge you if you wean them at four months and if you decide to wait until seven. They will judge you if you go back to work and if you're a stay at home mum. There is nothing like becoming a parent to make everyone suddenly believe they are sitting on a jury, but you just need to ignore them and do what is right for you and your child.

10. Baby clothes cost more than your average monthly mortgage and you'll need the vigilance of a Russian spy to replace them in time to keep up with your baby's rapid growth.Yet somehow they'll still have a bigger and better wardrobe than you have ever had.

11. No matter how good you are at holding it together, you will still turn into a weeping mess when your baby has their first jabs.

12. There are hundreds of Smug Mums (I like to call them 'Smums') on the internet, posting on forum boards about how their baby crawled at three months, and posting photos on Facebook of newborns with milestone cards which say they slept through the night for the first time at three days old, but I can guarantee you that even these mums cry into their mugs of tea on a semi-regular basis too. You can't buy into the filtered reality you see online.

13. Colic, reflux, teething, sleep regressions...these phases are lumped together in a category I like to call 'The Shits', because well, they are supremely shit. But it's important to remember that they are just phases, and they pass. They always pass.

14. Speaking of passing shits, you will rapidly become a poo expert, and you'll soon find that your parental conversations turn to the topic on a regular basis. From green to brown to orange and even slightly purple, you'll come to know exactly what the precise colour (and texture) means with regards to your child's health. It's now completely acceptable to sniff another person's bottom in public. It's also perfectly acceptable to ask them out loud in the supermarket if that was a poo or just a fart.

15. You'll start to notice pregnant women and babies a lot more, and will be heard muttering, "Why is EVERYONE I know having children these days?!" You'll appreciate other people's babies, but secretly inside you will *know* that yours is the cutest. You're still patiently waiting for the day that the child modelling agency calls you to say that your perfect little cherub has been head-hunted for a new campaign.

16. Multi-tasking isn't just an impressive skill, it is now necessary to life. Changing a nappy with one hand whilst on the phone booking a doctor's appointment and singing 'Baa Baa Black Sheep'? Absolute doddle.

17. Your mummy friends suddenly become the most amazing, strong and independent women you have ever met. You constantly ask yourself how on earth they are managing to get out of the house after a handful of hours' sleep; how they manage to go back to work after a few months; how they are still going to the gym / baking brownies / taking up crocheting. Then suddenly you realise you're doing just as well as them in your own way and give yourself a huge pat on the back.

18. No matter how bad your day has been, or how little you have slept the night before, one smile from your baby, one 'Mama' or one cuddle, and everything is alright again.

19. You have never felt so fulfilled, so proud, so goddamn content in your entire life. You sing more, you laugh more, everyone probably thinks you're going a little crazy. But you created a human being, and they're amazing. You're a bit amazing for doing it too. See point 1.

20. Nothing will ever be the same again. And you wouldn't change a thing.

Mummies, what have you learned that I've missed?

For those of you that are still pregnant, check out '20 Ways To Cope With Pregnancy In Your Third Trimester'

A Luxurious Family Stay At The Four Seasons Hotel, Doha

Monday, 28 November 2016

When you have a baby, it is a very rare occasion when every member of the family gets a chance to relax, unwind and have fun at the same time. One parent at least is usually on edge, making sure that the baby is safe and content and I can guarantee that at any one moment in time, at least two of the three of us will be absolutely, utterly exhausted. So when the Four Seasons Hotel here in Doha invited us along for a family-friendly, luxury staycation the other weekend, we jumped at the chance. My mind was already beside the pool, mocktail in hand, one eye on Mr Sunshine and Baby Sunshine frolicking in the water in front of me.

So was reality as blissful as I had imagined it to be? Read on to find out...

The Room

We were staying in the Ambassador Suite, which included a spacious living and dining room, bedroom with queen-sized bed, dressing room, marbled bathroom and two Juliette balconies overlooking the sweeping curve of the Corniche below, and out to the tranquil waters of the Persian Gulf.

In the bedroom, a cot had been set up at our request, and we discovered some useful baby supplies on the night stand, along with the cutest little Four Seasons-embossed baby slippers!

These thoughtful touches extended to the provisions we found in the living area, including munchies for mum and dad...

But more importantly, two pots of freshly puréed baby food, complete with spoon and bibs for the little one. As it was nearing lunch time by the time we'd checked in and finished exploring, Sophia was getting hungry so we didn't hesitate in tucking right in.

For the duration of our stay, we kept the large double doors between the bedroom and living room open, and Sophia enjoyed crawling around and exploring the expansive, sun-filled space...

And playing on the large, squishy bed...

I made the most of the Crabtree & Evelyn products that I found in the bathroom by taking long, hot showers and a soak in the deep bathtub...

And Mr Sunshine flicked between the football on TV, and the magazines on display.

It wasn't long before we all felt completely relaxed and at home.

The Pool & Beach Area

The pools at the Four Seasons are some of my favourites in Doha, as they are shaped like natural-looking lagoons surrounded by palm trees, flowers and foliage, making you feel as though you've stumbled upon a tropical paradise.

There are waterfalls and jacuzzis, a warm children's pool and even cave-like pools hidden at various levels amongst the rocks.

The sunloungers are plentiful, and you can choose between sitting in the sunshine, or beneath one of the shaded cabanas.

A hop, step and a jump away lies a large and sweeping beach, with fine white sand and a Maldives-like vibe.

Several blissful hours were spent nipping between our sun loungers, the sand and the pools, and our happy baby didn't stop giggling the whole time that we were there! Not only did we all have an incredibly fun afternoon, but I was even able to fit in a bit of sunbathing, which for a busy mum like me, is almost unheard of. Huge thanks to Mr Sunshine for keeping Sophia entertained while I relaxed!

Here's an aerial shot of the hotel's grounds, as seen from our balcony. Can you spot Sophia and me?!

The Spa

Not only did I manage to enjoy the sun, but I also got the chance to nip away for a quick treatment while we were there. It was my first in almost nine months, so I was buzzing with excitement as I entered the doors of the spa.

The Four Seasons Spa is housed within its own three-storey building, offering a wide range of health and wellness therapies inside each of its 11 treatment rooms, and the hydrotherapy facilities are some of the most impressive I've seen.

I was there however, for the ninety minute Biologique Recherche facial, a treatment which encorporates a comprehensive computerised skin assessment which allows the beautician to customise your facial using techniques and products that are best-suited to your individual skincare needs.

Two dreamy hours later, I left feeling rejeuvenated, with plump skin which hadn't glowed in that way since the early days of my pregnancy.

The Food

Breakfast is held in Elements, which long-time readers will know is one of my favourite Doha restaurants. Having never visited at this hour, however, I was taken aback by the enormous range of breakfast options available.

Live stations are dotted about the restaurant, and nothing is impossible for the kind waiting staff, who fetched and carried dishes, moved tables and customised our order to make sure everything was just right for us and Sophia.

The end result was a table with a view and laden with goodies, from a Full English breakfast, pastries and fruit smoothies, to Dim Sum and even Dosa. For once, all three of us sat in silence as we sat back to enjoy our food.

Lunch on both days that we were there came courtesy of the Pool Grill, which we initially enjoyed beside the pool on our sun loungers. Salted and crisp calamari; delicate, flakey salmon; and sushi and salads that tasted fresh and delicious were consumed at a rate of knots.

In fact, Sophia enjoyed her food so much that she proceeded to shovel several fistfuls into her mouth at once, inevitably making quite a mess...

So the next day we opted for a more civilised sit-down lunch at the Pool Grill's pretty terrace which looks out over the beach.

The pizza was stunning, but the star of the show was the tender steak, which the knife sliced through like butter and which practically melted in the mouth.

Dinner was held at the restaurant's acclaimed Italian, Il Teatro, and having not had a proper date night for several weeks, we were pretty excited about this one.

Chef Marco Alotti heads up a kitchen of talented chefs whose passion is evident in every morsel of food.

We selected as broadly as we could from the menu, which has been newly revised for the Winter, and sat back to enjoy the warm breeze on the terrace while Sophia snoozed in her pram and we devoured everything that was placed in front of us. Each dish was perfectly executed, but the real stand-outs included the flavourful amuse bouche; the earthy scallops with crisp pollenta chips; the delicately-truffled tortellini with moreish pecorino cheese sauce which demanded to be mopped up with the bread left in the bread basket; and the Chilean Seabass, which had been cooked to perfection with a soft and silky texture which paired beautifully with the slightly sweet and perfectly-seasoned sauce.

The Service

From the moment we set foot in the hotel, the service we encountered was incomparable. Some might think that this is a given in any luxury five star hotel, but in all of our travels, there have only been a handful occasions where the service has been faultless, and our experience at the Four Seasons was one of them.

We were welcomed to the pool and restaurants by name. The staff were considerate and courteous, without appearing over-bearing.  Most importantly, they were welcoming and friendly to Sophia, accepting of her mess(!) and kind and thoughtful in everything they did to make us all feel relaxed and well-catered for.

The Verdict

From the incredibly thoughtful provisions that were left for us in our room, to the stunning surroundings and world class food, everything about our stay at the Four Seasons was both luxurious and relaxing. I was surprised that a luxury brand was able to make us feel so at home and comfortable, and even more surprised by the family-friendly touches that permeated everything we did and saw. Would I change anything? Well, everyone knows that I am a sucker for a cup of tea, so I could say that some fresh milk in the fridge in our room would have been lovely. I could also tell you that the bath towels could have been slightly bigger. But then it would be obvious to you all that I was desperately scraping the barrel for some 'constructive feedback'.

In short, everything we experienced during our staycation was a delight.

After we had returned home that night, Sophia slept longer and more soundly than she had ever slept. She had enjoyed herself so much that she'd completely worn herself out.

Four Seasons Doha, you can be sure that I'll be booking in our next staycation very soon!

The Details

Four Seasons Hotel, The Corniche, Doha | (+974) 4494 8888

To read more in my Doha Staycation series, head here.

We were guests of the Four Seasons Hotel this time, but as always all views are my own

New Mum's Christmas Gift List & Baby Registry 2016

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

With the beginning of December in sight, 'tis the season to be jolly...and if you're pregnant or have a new baby, it's also the season to splash a lot of cash. Luckily, your friends and family are likely to be extra generous this year; who doesn't love a Christmas baby after all?!

Enter the Follow Your Sunshine 2016 New Mum's Christmas Gift List & Baby Registry to help you to decide which items are of the utmost importance to include on your (and your baby's) wishlist to Santa this year. And if there is a yummy mummy or cutie patootie in your life, you can use it to show off your thoughtful present buying skills without breaking the bank too!


Chicco Next2Me

If there is one product that I would recommend to any prospective parents, it is this. With a detachable side, it can be fixed onto the side of your bed, helping your baby to feel closer to you and making safe co-sleeping a doddle. Plus it's lightweight and easily transportable too.

Sleepyhead of Sweden

We've used our Sleepyhead as a cot insert, travel bed, handy portable nap time spot, and a safe place to put Sophia down when we needed to be hands-free before she learnt to roll! Sophia loves how cosy it makes her feel at night, and for this reason we're about to upgrade from the Deluxe to the Grand.


Our baby sleep saviour! The Whisbear plays white noise, has a standby mode for when your baby wakes, and is super cute and soft to the touch too. Find out more here.


IKEA Antilop High Chair

A streamlined and simple design, this highchair has an easily detachable table and seat, which means that the lazy parents amongst us (ahem, yup, me!) can just shove the whole thing straight into the dishwasher after use. Let's face it, if you're attempting baby-led weaning like we are, you're probably going to be doing this a lot.

Ella's Kitchen 

When you don't have the time for cooking, puréeing, sautéing and mashing the organic ingredients you have purchased at the local farmer's market (ha ha ha...), these pouches are a handy alternative to pop into your bag for quick lunches and snacks on the go. They're made using all-organic ingredients with no additives too.


Vita Coco Coconut Oil

There are all too many reasons to #swearbyit - both for mum (conditioner, lip balm, make up remover!!) and baby (cradle cap, nappy rash and healthy cooking when you reach weaning stage). Read more here.

Aleva Naturals

Natural and organic products are my preference for Sophia's delecate skin, and as Aleva Naturals products smell heavenly and leave her skin feeling super soft, they are ideal. It's also a bonus that they are also a hair and body wash in one, meaning that we don't have to spend too much time faffing about with the washing part of bath time, and have more time to enjoy splashing around.



I like the fact that Bumbos are ergonomically shaped so that they're super comfy for little bottoms. Where are the adult-sized versions?! Ideal for those times when some concentrated play or reading is required. Or when you need to shove them in front of In The Night Garden, safe in the knowledge that they can't get into mischief while you take a quick shower (don't judge me!).

Fisher Price Rainforest range

From the activity gym to the bouncer, the Jumperoo to the swing, Sophia has used one item or other of the rainforest range since pretty much day one. The bright colours, sounds and music are great for developing key motor, visual and auditory skills, and many of the parts are detachable to become toys for on the move.

Zoggs Float

One of the major perks of living in a hot country is the fact that we can swim on an almost daily basis. Our float has therefore been one of our go-to pieces of kit, and it's helped Sophia to become accustomed to the water while feeling safe and protected. She also looks pretty cute in it when her little legs pedal under the water to propel herself along.


Bugaboo Cameleon Travel System & Accessories

I probably don't need to do too much to sell the Bugaboo to you, as it's well-known in mummy circles as being one of the best stroller systems out there, so I'll just give you three reasons why I think it pips its competitors to the post: 1. It's sturdy! You can attach ten tonnes of shopping to the handle and still it doesn't seem to ever lose its balance, keeping your precious cargo safe inside; 2. It's got a great turning circle. Trust me when I say that after pushing a buggy around every day for 8 months, this becomes important; 3. The additional accessories you can buy are endless. If you crave coordination, you are blessed with seat covers and parasols and cup holders and blankets to enhance your (and your baby's) Bugaboo experience!
Choopie Citybucket

It might sound a bit sad, but I don't know what I did before this pram caddie came into my life, especially now the days are cooler in Doha, and I'm able to get out and about a lot more with Sophia. It fits any brand of stroller, collapses with the stroller for easy storage and even has an insulated cup holder compartment for much-needed caffeinated drinks (or a bottle if you like).

Smythson Personalised Passport Covers

These personalised passport covers were part of my wedding gift to Mr Sunshine, and when we found out that we were having a girl and had decided on a name, Mr S suggested we had one made for her too. They are made from real leather, can be embossed in different colours and styles and are a must for any families who aren't willing to give up the travel bug when their precious bundle arrives.

Ergobaby Cool Air

This baby carrier has been a staple with us on our travels, as it's lightweight and breathable, so that Sophia stays cosy or cool in any type of weather. It has four different carrying positions, comes with an infant insert for use with tiny babies, and is one of Sophia's very favourite nap spots too.

Jem & Bea Changing Bag

Follow Your Sunshine

I bought this changing bag because, well, it didn't look like a changing bag! I love the soft leather and designer handbag feel to it, but soon came to adore the capacity, accessories and storage compartments even more. I loved it so much in fact, that I just bought another for my friend who is having a baby in January.

For more travel-related ideas, head to 'How To Travel With A Baby'

For Mum

Bravado Designs Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra

The comfiest nursing bra I have ever worn, and the only one I would ever purchase again. It fits snugly, comes in a multitude of colours, and doesn't make you feel like a frump. Read more here.

Emma Bridgewater mugs

I am a tea addict, so my mug collection is embarrasingly huge. If I had a choice however, I would only ever drink out of my hand painted, individually designed Emma Bridgewater mugs. I love them! As a busy and tired mum, someone offering you a cup of tea is a godsend but someone buying you a pretty mug to put your tea in is priceless.

Qatar-Based Stocking Fillers

Umm Mu Hadmade - Making It Personal

The absolutely lovely (and incredibly talented!) Shafna never really liked needlecraft when she was younger. Her mother bought her a sewing machine because she thought that every household should have one, but it lived for a while on a shelf gathering dust. Then one day she took it down. She was inspired by the birth of her children to start making clothes, and she discovered she was actually quite good at it. Several years (and the stocking of several heaving fabric closets!) later, and she has a successful business, hand making everything from garments for girls, to cushions, quilts and framed birth announcements. She made Sophia the most beautiful little dress, and matching knickerbockers which we absolutely love! Check out her Facebook page here.

Patt Handcraft

Patt's stunning handmade items first came to our attention before Sophia was born, when we commissioned her to make the pretty name garland which now hangs above the cot in her room. Since then, we have received a nursing cover, which I used almost daily during the early days, and a gorgeous, characterful owl cushion which matches the decor of her nursery. Patt's creativity grew from making little gifts for friends and family back in Portugal where she is from, to later having her own stalls at various craft fairs around Doha. She works with her clients to personalise most of their designs, and is constantly working on new ideas to expand her range. Check out her Facebook page here.

Monkey Tail Qatar

We love Sophia's pretty floral swimsuit set from Monkey Tail. They sell a huge range of swimwear for kids in various eye-catching patterns, as well as a large range of gorgeous Spanish shoes, bags, hats and hair accessories. Check out their Facebook page here.

Crochet Candy

Kirsten lives just down the road from me, and I met her at a weekly gathering of mums and babies. I knew that she was a creative and resourceful mummy, but it only came to my attention fairly recently that she was also incredibly talented at crocheting too! I just had to get my hands on these gorgeous little yellow Converse for a recent baby shower gift, but she makes many more items besides. Check out her Facebook page here.

For more baby gift ideas and inspiration, head to 'Sophia's Nursery Reveal' 

Please note that some of the above items were provided for review. However, as always all views are my own