Returning to work after maternity leave

Returning to Work after Maternity Leave

Returning to work after maternity leave

For some it’s a daunting time, the prospect of going back to your ‘old’ job – the one before your Little Pickle turned your brain to mush, whereas others relish the thought of getting their feet under the desk for adult conversation and hot cups of coffee.

You probably had days when you thought work was tough before you went on maternity leave, but now you’re about to become a working mum and believe me – that’s a whole new ball game! 

We’ve put together some handy tips to ensure your transition and return to work has you ace’ing your new work and parenting routine.  

 

  • KIT Days – take advantage of your KIT day allowance (you’re allowed ten during your maternity leave), not only do they earn you a day’s wages to top up your SMP but it also keeps you in touch with your colleagues and the business – so you’re not completely in the dark when you return
    • Choose and agree days/hours to suit–speak with your manager or HR to ascertain the days that you would like to go back – maybe you are in a situation where you can go back part-time or reduced hours, it’s well worth getting it all agreed in advance so you can work out your childcare options
    •Research and feel happy with your nursery/childcare choice. Finding it all a bit of a minefield? Check out our handy childcare choices checklist here
    • Enjoy being you again  – at work, your role doesn’t define your personality like it can when you’re on maternity leave, you can enjoy just being a person again as opposed to just being known as ‘Henry’s mummy’at a baby group
    • An excuse to update your wardrobe – even if it is your work one! You want to feel good when you return to work, the last visions of you were probably a waddling pregnant lady not able to see her feet so it’s nice to feel good on your return
    • Be prepared! Get everything out the night before; your clothes, pickles clothes, your packed lunch, the pickles bag (complete with plenty of changes of clothes!). Being prepared the night before ensures you don’t forget anything and helps you not run around in the morning in a complete tizz
    • Leave yourself more time than necessary; strapping flailing babies into car seats always add on extra precious minutes to your previously relaxing drive to work
    • Enjoy your lunch break! Ooh, hot drinks and hot food, or even just cold drinks and simple sandwiches. Either way – enjoy them without a small person pulling at your legs wanting to ‘try some’ or needing a poo just as you sit your bum down on the chair
    • Don’t worry about the housework –don’t worry about trying to schedule the household chores in for the first few weeks back. Getting into the swing of things at work is tiring initially and throw into that the new evening routine for your little one too – the housework can wait
    • After your first week back, celebrate! You made it, crack open the wine and give yourself a humongous pat on the back 
    • Above all, make your biggest goal to achieve a happy work/life balance. 

 

Remember – it does get easier.

I speak from experience with doing this twice over. Having the heavy pit of doom in your tummy, the sobbing as you leave your little pickle at their nursery settling sessions and the dreaded night before ‘D-Day’ where you wake numerous times thinking you have overslept your alarm and you’re going to be late on your first day back. [I had this and I was the one who was looking forward to going back to work!]

What at the time seems like the biggest separation you’ll ever face. Soon becomes just another milestone ticked off on the parenting journey. The getting ready/drop off and getting yourself to work on time (with matching shoes on and no sick on your shoulder) soon becomes a normal part of your everyday routine and just another offshoot of the branch we call family life. It may take you a week, it may take you a month but try to think of the positives – your little pickle is being cared for and enjoying spending time with other people, widening their social circle and skills, whilst allowing you a bit of ‘adult’ time and with the money that you’re earning you can splash out on treats for them!

Written by Jess from Prosecco Mum, you can follow her on all the socials below

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Used Kitchens

How to Save & Make Money on Your Kitchen

How to Save & Make Money on Your Kitchen

If you love cooking, you probably spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Even if you don’t like to cook, the chances are that your kitchen is still at the heart of your home, as a place to gather and spend time together as a family. If you’d love to improve your kitchen but you don’t have the budget to buy a brand new one, don’t worry, as there’s plenty of ways to both save and make money on your kitchen.

Save Money:

Renovate your Kitchen

If there isn’t anything structurally wrong with your kitchen, you can dramatically alter its appearance just with some clever renovations. The best place to start is the units – if you have a traditional wooden kitchen, you can easily paint or refinish them to change the colour of your kitchen. You can easily change the handles of your cupboards too, and shopping online via eBay will ensure you get a good deal. Once you’ve done that, have a look at the worktops. You can easily replace a worktop, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune either – laminate and granite are the most affordable materials. Next, the flooring. Vinyl can easily replicate more expensive types of flooring such as wood and stone.  The best thing about renovating your kitchen is that you can do it in stages and you can source the cheapest materials, which will save you money as you spread the cost.

save money on used kitchen

Buy Used/Ex-Display

If you’ve got your heart set on a new kitchen, you don’t have to buy one straight from the catalogues and sign your life away to a credit agreement. You can buy a used kitchen, or even one that is from a showroom, for a discounted price. Companies such as Used Kitchen Exchange offer a full service, where you can view kitchens online, make an offer or arrange a viewing and they will assist you with the entire buying process, liaising with the seller on your behalf to ensure a smooth sale. You will be able to find every type of kitchen, from traditional shaker kitchens to designer German kitchens, so you’re sure to find one that fits in perfectly with your home.

Make Money:

Sell What You Don’t Use

Take a look around your kitchen; are there any appliances that you don’t use? Maybe it’s a spiraliser from the Great Spiraliser Trend of 2015, or maybe it’s a smoothie maker from that health kick that you promised you would do last January. Have a clear out and sell any unwanted items on eBay or at a car boot sale, and put the money towards your renovations or a new kitchen.


Sell Your Kitchen

If you’ve decided that a new kitchen is what you need, why not sell your old one? If it’s in good condition, you could make a decent amount of money on it. Used Kitchen Exchange will give you a valuation, and if you decide to go ahead, they will professionally photograph your kitchen and list it on their website.

If your kitchen isn’t sellable as a whole, take a look at the individual aspects of it. If your units are in good shape but the worktops aren’t, replace the worktops and you’ll be able to sell the units! Even if you have fitted appliances, someone could be looking for the exact same appliance, so you might be able to make a sale from your old appliances.

 

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Parents Apps

Apps for Parents

Apps for Parents

When you’re a busy parent running around after your Little Pickle/s, time is precious – so we’ve put together our ten tried and tested free apps to give you a bit more of an easier life…and maybe even allow you a bit of time for yourself – provided you can get the pickles to nap on schedule.
Parents Apps

  • Mush – described as ‘tinder for mums’, is a site that enables mums to meet with other local mums in the area. Motherhood can be extremely lonely so if you’re looking for playgroups to attend with your little pickle or other likeminded mums to hang out with then have a look around this fab mum directory! You can download the app here – App Store or Google Play
  • Doodle –when there’s a group of you, no one can ever make the same date.  Doodle saves a huge amount of time going back and forth. Set up a poll with the date range, select the dates you can do and then send the link out to your friends. Once all participants have completed the poll, the most popular days are flagged up and ta-da that’s the date sorted – and you don’t have to be the one to pick one friend’s availability over another. Win! Get it from the App Store here and Google Play here
  • Just Eat – when you’ve had a busy day and the thought of slaving over the oven is not that appealing, reach for your phone and order in your dinner instead. Everyone deserves a treat night once in a while! App Store user? Get it here. Google Play user? Get it here
  • YouTube – whether baby is a few days old or you’ve got a wayward toddler then Youtube will be your saviour. Load up white noise for those times you’ve forgotten to pack Ewan or your myHummy sleep aids, pop on ten minutes of Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly for those days when you can’t face anymore ‘But, why mummy?’ questions or search out some educational games for when you need to get the dinner cooking! YouTube comes as standard on most smartphones but if you need a reminder, download here.
  • First Year – this app makes tracking daily activities a piece of cake! It’s ideal if you’re trying to keep, or establish, a routine with easy to input feeds/naptimes/nappy data logs. You can even track developmental milestones as well as growth charting. It also comes with a handy ‘notes’ section which is ideal for making notes to chat to Health Visitors about – or simply to remind yourself to do something later in the day! Get organised by downloading on App StoreLP~M Apps NHS
  • Healthier Together – as a parent, there are so many worries through pregnancy, birth and beyond. The Healthier Together app allows parents to symptom check or receive advice from healthcare professionals. No more scare searching on Google! You can download Healthier Together on the App Store here or Google Play here
  • Baby Buddy – what better endorsement is there than one from everyone’s favourite doctor?! Dr Ranj says ‘this app really is what I call the future of healthcare’. Designed to guide mums-to-be through their pregnancy and the first six month of baby’s life, boasts a virtual expert who you can ask a question to at any time of the day or night, daily chunks of information tailored to your stage of pregnancy or age of baby, input your upcoming appointments with reminders and there’s even a ‘What does that mean?’ section where you can find out what a word means.  Download on App Store or Google PlayLPM Buddy App
  • Canva – ever wondered how people get lovely fonts and motifs over images without paying a designer? They’re more than likely using Canva! This app has pre-set templates that are editable or you can start from scratch with a photo upload and drag and drop your chosen font over. So whether you want a fancy Instagram post, a new facebook cover photo or maybe a blog post heading then this is the app for you, download here.
  • Life cake – there’s no doubt your phone camera is stuffed full of pictures and videos from pregnancy, early baby days through to toddler and beyond, so wouldn’t it be nice to be able to share all of those photos with your selected friends and family from all over the world – in complete privacy? Introducing Lifecake! And what’s even better is that it puts all photos into date order, so even if you’re not organised – it will organise it for you. Share your link with people you want to be able to view it; no more forgetting to get photos developed for auntie Mavis, she can view them all at her leisure. App Store it here or Google Play here
  • NCT Babychange – we all quickly get to know our local town’s facilities and can quite easily navigate one-handed to the nearest baby change or mother and baby rooms, but what happens when you experience a poonami in a new area? This is where NCT Babychange comes in! It not only shows you where the nearest place is to your current location but it also features honest ratings from mums who’ve been in the same situation as you previously – so you can pick and choose which one you clear up the explosion in. There’s got to be some silver linings! App Store download here and Google Play here

LPM Apps NCT Babychange

Written by Jess from Prosecco Mum, you can follow her on all the socials below

www.proseccomum.com

www.facebook.com/proseccomum

www.twitter.com/proseccomum

www.instagram.com/the_prosecco_mum

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Baby Shower

Planning the Perfect Baby Shower

So the baby is cooking nicely, all the big ‘things’ have been ordered, nursery decorated and now thoughts can turn to the baby shower. Perhaps you are organising your own baby shower or perhaps you’ve been tasked with the job for the newest mum-to-be on the block?

Baby Shower

Here at Little Pickles, we’ve put together this short guide to help with planning the perfect baby shower!

First, consider the guest list – is this a girls only event or is dad-to-be included too? Are children invited? If family are on the list, it’s best to clear dates with them first to ensure they can make it – nothing worse than leaving family members out in the cold.

Once you have the guestlist it’s time to decide on the venue – the current trend seems to be hosting at a tearoom and having an afternoon tea style affair – though this does pose the question, does the host pay for all in the party or will guests need to pay for themselves?

Alternatively, if the host has a big enough area in their house that can be a great option – or even a local village hall or community centre.

Will there be a theme for the baby shower?

If the gender is known, go with the obvious – plan the theme around pink or blue, elephants and bunnies are nice, soft animal theme choices too – or if you’re not sure on the sex, then keep it neutral with whites, golds and pastels. You can never go too wrong with greys and yellows in my experience!

For the additional little touches, if you’re a creative type then homemade bunting and pompoms are a lovely touch to warm up the room. Etsy and Not On The High Street are fab for both generic and personalised items. Or if budget is a little stricter, Poundland and Home Bargains have an array of cheap and cheerful bits suited to a shower.
What food is baby shower appropriate?

If you’re not at a catered-for venue, like a café or tearoom, then the best food for a large number of people is a finger food/buffet style. Delicate cut sandwiches, pinwheel wraps, little sausages, pork pies, quiches, carrots, cucumber, peppers and dips and a few bowls of crisps. Be sure to make it all pregnancy friendly.

And don’t forget cake! Throw in cake pops for a splash of gender-related colour, if known.

Cake Pops

Another nice touch is to treat guests to mocktails in mason jars with paper straws!
What games are well received at a baby shower?

  • Baby bingo – who will be the first to get a nappy pin or baby bottle line?!
  • Guess the nappy contents – melted snickers bars or generous smears of marmite make fabulous meconium style nappy contents!
  • Guess the baby drink – gather together a number of babies bottles and fill them with various drinks and just like the nappy game, albeit a bit more pleasant, ask your guests to guess the contents.
  • Stick the dummy on the baby’s mouth – a bit of a twist on the classic children’s party game of pin the tail on the donkey.
  • Guess the date of birth and weight of baby – and if unknown, guess the gender!
  • ‘Advice for the parents’ cards – this is always a nice keepsake for parents to look back over in years to come
  • Decorate a babygro – arm yourself with a pile of white babygros and fabric markers and set your guests to work on designing

    Baby Shower DrinksFor the games, be sure to get some little prizes together to award the ‘winner’, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy but is a nice touch…if budgets allow.

But most of, remember, that the nicest part of a baby shower is to ensure that the mummy-to-be is able to chat and catch up with all of their loved ones; this will be the last time in a while that they’ll be sitting still, drinking hot tea without a baby puking on their shoulder or a toddler clinging to their legs!

Written by Jess from Prosecco Mum you can find her on all the socials below

www.proseccomum.com

www.facebook.com/proseccomum

www.twitter.com/proseccomum

www.instagram.com/the_prosecco_mum

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Tanya

Introducing our Organiser – Tanya

Introducing our Organiser Tanya

Little Pickles Market Organiser

Where do you run Markets?

Eastleigh, Romsey, Chandlers Ford, Totton, Applemore and Brockenhurst

What is the item you can’t live without other than your family?

My Phone! I know sad right but it keeps me up to date with work, the world and the kids happy when needed!

How many children do you have?

2, a 12 year old son and a 5 year old daughter. I can not believe that I will soon have a teenager in the house!

If you woke up tomorrow as an animal, what animal would you choose to be and why?  

I would like to be an Orca, free in the ocean surrounded by so many animals but big enough that I am not going to get eaten in the first week!

Where is your favourite place to be and why?

 I love  South Wales, would move there tomorrow if I could but kids not so keen on leaving friends and family.

What is your favourite children’s book? I was a massive Enid Blyton fan and loved her Naughtiest Girl in the School series.  I can not wait for my daughter to enjoy reading and buy them all so I have a sneaky read too. Now I enjoy getting into a Patricia Cornwall book.

Cinema or fancy restaurant?

Cinema is a luxury for me definitely and something that I should do more often. My daughter is not a fan, so makes it harder to go.

Which one spring, summer, autumn, or winter, let us know why?

Tough call there is something about every season that I love, the flowers in spring, the warmth in summer (well maybe not always in the UK!), the leaves changed colour in autumn and the kids faces waiting for a white Christmas in Winter.

Name one thing you always carry in your handbag?

Epi Pen, something that has to be with me at all times due to allergies I have gained following my last pregnancy.  

One bit of information you wish you’d known before becoming a parent?

That the feeling of being a mum is the best in the world, I would have done it sooner! Having kids changes your whole world and sometimes you do not know how you will get through the next hour or even day, then you realise how lucky and privileged you are to be given a child or my case 2.

Best bargain you have found at a Little Pickles Market?

At Little Pickles it would have to be Monsoon dresses for £1 each which were so beautiful and at Bigger Pickles just recently it was a box of Barbies and clothes for £3 which my daughter has already played with every day for the last 3 weeks.

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