Friday 30 September 2016

Grabbing the last bit of Summer

Summer holidays
With Autumn just around the corner any excuse to grab some sun and the last glimpse of Summer I'm there. 

So last month we packed up our bags, jumped on a plane and headed for Caudeval in the South of France. Our villa was set in the beautiful French countryside, an hours drive from Carcassonne, Foix and a short distance from the historic market town of Mirepoix. 
Google map Caudeval
As you all know I have a love hate relationship with flying. I love the end destination but the travelling I am not so keen on.Travelling abroad with Noah for the first time added another level of nervousness but I'm pleased to share that I needn't have worried. The little man was a joy to travel with, in fact he slept the entire flight! To my huge relief and those I'm sure of the passengers around us. 

Now we all know that sleep is not his forte so managing to pull sleep off at 39,000 feet is quite the achievement. Sadly the same can't be said for the rest of the week with regards to the sleep, but small mercies.  

Travelling up the gravel driveway to our villa I knew instantly we were in for a treat. The house, gardens and swimming pool were breathtakingly beautiful. 
Villas south of France
Villas south of France
South of France villas
Many happy hours were spent lounging around the swimming pool, whilst Noah perfected his water wings. 
Holidays in France
The little man is most certainly a water baby, the temperature saw his mummy squirming and gingerly entering the water. Whilst Noah jovially soaked everyone, splashing like a 'Looney toons'. 

But the best bit for me was the peace and tranquillity having travelled from the hustle and bustle of London. There was absolutely nothing to see for miles around the Villa, apart from the Pyrenees mountains, rolling fields, hay bales and beautiful sunsets, it was the perfect place to unwind. 

Things to do locally:

1. Mirepoix: A lovely picturesque town steeped in history and character.

On Mondays the local town of Mirepoix holds a superb market, in fact its an absolute must if you are in the region. 
Best markets France
It is all set in a picture perfect little town with beautiful medieval half-timber coloured houses with beautiful carved sculptures, restaurants and shops. 
The market offers several wine vendors, a wonderful variety of local cheeses, cured sausages, fresh fish, olives, vegetables, snails and other local specialities. 
French Markets
You will have to arrive early as it gets very busy and the cafes become a hive of activity. It's a great idea to get there early and have a yummy breakfast in one of the quaint restaurants. 

It has an awe-inspiring cathedral that oversees the proceedings of the market town, taking centre stage in the town square. 
It definitely rates as one of the best markets we have been too in France. 

2. Carcassonne: A medieval Citadel

Another wonderful place to visit is Carcassonne, a 12th century fortified town, filled with wonderful restaurants, shops and a superb rampart. 
A perfect medieval castle that looks just like something out of the pages of Sleeping Beauty.
You could easily spend a day wandering around the lanes, shopping and building up an appetite to eat. 

Its the perfect place to sit outside a cafe and people watch. 

3. Foix: A commune with an imposing castle Ch√Ęteau de Foix in the centre of town

Foix is breathtakingly beautiful with its picturesque town and formidable castle that takes centre stage in the town. 
The town is the perfect place to have lunch and then walk it off visiting the castle. Make sure you wear sensible shoes and those with little ones in a buggy, a baby carrier is a much better choice due to all the hills and cobbles. 
The views from the castle are breathtaking completely worth all the hard work getting to the top. 
All in all we had a wonderful first holiday together. There was no down time like in previous holidays so reading a good book in the sunshine was out of the question with little Noah, but all in all we had good fun and more importantly we would do it all again. 

Noah however was not so keen on returning home, he did a small sit in protest about returning home.
Travelling with a baby

Top tips travelling with a baby: 

1.Feed your baby on take off and landing, it works a treat for helping with their ears. Take a bag of toys on board so that your baby is entertained. Depending on their age small books, rubber bath toys (which have a dual purpose), stickers and puzzles are all great. 

2.Take a lightweight buggy and bag protector to protect it in the hold or overhead locker in the case of the Yoyo. I am still loving our Yoyo+ pushchair, definitely one of my best purchases.  
2.Take a sling, useful for so many situations. Travelling around the airport when you need your hands, outings and most importantly naps. I love the BabyBjorn Miracle Baby Carrier we bought. 
Baby essentials

3. Take a sunshade for the pushchair, this will mean that your baby can sleep whilst out and about. I have absolutely loved the Snooze Sleep Shade and got so much use out of it this Summer. 
Sleep shade
4. Portable highchair: Sometimes your little one will not want to go in a highchair. The Phil and Ted Wriggle Wrapper is perfect you can tie it to yourself so that your baby is secure but you still have your hands to eat and drink. It can also be used if your little one falls asleep on a bed to secure them. 
Where did you end up this summer? Share your adventures in the comments below.

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Friday 2 September 2016

I need my child to sleep

Baby Sleep Deprivation
I have always tried to be honest on this blog, sharing things I have loved, things that haven't been that great and some awful experiences; but there is something I have shied away from writing about. In fact I have actively hidden from it for the last nine months and at times I thought I would probably never share it with you. 

I've started this post a number of times and stopped, feeling that it may not be something that others would be interested in. However, as I started to write I thought there might be others who are going through a similar scenario. To be honest I was also worried that I couldn't do the issue justice, that my words would make it sound trivial and for me and I'm sure others who have been affected by this; it is anything but. 

I have a baby that doesn't sleep! Sounds innocent enough in itself and to be honest something you expect as a new parent. I wouldn't say I was naive about how hard it would be to become a new parent. I had expected nothing more than a gruelling six months of hard work and no sleep. Friends who had babies and toddlers told me that this was a good way to go into parenthood and that this was a realistic expectation. But nearly nine months on, the new born baby stage hasn't passed and I am still left with a baby that wakes constantly throughout the night. It is absolutely gruelling and soul destroying. 
Sleep deprivation
Now to be clear with those reading this I'm not talking about the occasional sleepless night because of a growth spurt, teething, a sleep regression or because the little one is unwell; I am talking about regular and consistent interrupted or no sleep.

To begin with you are running on the adrenaline of birth, the post highs of having a new born baby that easily sees you through the first three months of no sleep. 
Coping with a new born
But as time passes and weeks, turn into months and you are still left with a child that doesn't sleep you are tired, exhausted and somehow left feeling alone, a failing parent. Doing the simplest of tasks like washing your hair becomes impossible with a child that doesn't nap and is grouchy to be put down. 

I am surrounded by parents who's babies sleep, the little thing that we all take so naturally for granted, but the one thing that despite every best effort just hasn't happened. Lots of parents I have met since having Noah have babies that sleep through the night or wake once or twice through the night. To add to my perceived inadequacies,  they have done so from a few months old; so if you are one of those parents, with the utmost respect gracefully leave and go and gloat elsewhere.

This post is for those parents who like me are struggling or have struggled with a baby that just doesn't sleep or for those just interested in my experience. I should also point out that of course I am hopelessly in love with Noah, I love him to bits, the fact that he doesn't sleep is not a reflection on that and this is not a post natal depression topic. 

Chronic sleep deprivation is where you loose sleep night after night and have no time to make it up. A lack of sleep rapidly builds up to insurmountable levels that effect all areas of your life. 

Noah is now nearly nine months and on an average night our sleep happens in one-two hour stints. He sleeps for one or two hours, wakes and then requires up to forty minutes of settling until we both sleep again. 
Sleep loss
If one to two hours wasn't bad enough, sometimes he wakes within fifteen minutes of being put down. He frequently wakes five to eight times a night and wants to start his day (apparently refreshed) at four in the morning. I spend hours in a darkened room feeling very much alone and I have truly forgotten what deep sleep feels like. 

There is a reason that people use sleep deprivation as a torture devise; after a while you begin to loose your sense of self. Your rational self is lost and you are basically left a non-functioning anxious wreak. Basic tasks become a struggle. I have gone out to get shopping and forgotten why I was there, tried to get Noah a passport, forgetting the pictures and birth certificate. Taken pictures with my DSLR and had no memory card in there. Been talking mid sentence and forgotten what I was talking about or been unable to find the word for the most simple things. 

Noah also does not function well on such little sleep he wines in a high pitched voice and has mini meltdowns. 

I have read every website, article and book on how to get Noah to sleep. I'm trapped in a cycle of different pieces of advice and parenting tips, e.g. healthy sleep habits, the importance of routine, the cry it out method etc etc. 
Baby sleep regression
Whilst well meaning the vast amount of this material goes further to reinforce that you are an incapable parent because your child just doesn't sleep. 

The thought of going back to work with a child that still doesn't sleep is absolutely terrifying. 

I had hoped that once Noah started weaning that he would sleep longer during the night and sleep more consistently during the day. Sadly this hasn't happened as yet. I do hope however as he gets older that his sleep patterns will improve and that the non sleeping, all night partying baby will become a distant memory. 

I will share an update when it happens :-) In the meantime their are some positives to a baby that doesn't sleep I have seen some amazing sunrises. 
An update, Noah continues to not sleep but at ten months old was diagnosed with a milk allergy and following an over night sleep study, destauration problems whilst sleeping. 

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